In rural communities such as Shropshire, there may not be access to emergency medical care within the first few minutes of an illness or accident. In a life threatening situation, these first few minutes may be of vital importance in the care of a patient. It is for these occasions that the volunteer Community First Responders can be of most benefit to people of the community which they serve.
Each CFR volunteers to provide cover in the area where they either live or work, at the times it suits them. When a 999 call is made to the ambulance service, if the nature of the emergency is suitable for a CFR to attend, and they are the nearest available resource to the location, they are asked to respond by the ambulance control staff. Carrying the equipment they are trained for and supplied with, the volunteer attends the location in either their own transport, or in a vehicle supplied by the scheme they are a member of.
Once with the patient, the CFR will assess their condition, and then begin treatment if necessary to the level of their training, whilst waiting for the arrival of the nearest full time ambulance resource. Whenever a CFR is asked to attend an emergency call, there will always be a full time ambulance resource sent at the same time. However, if that ambulance is travelling from some distance away, the local volunteer is likely to arrive with the patient sooner, and be able to provide medical care quicker. In situations such as Cardiac Arrests (where the heart has stopped beating) or Strokes, every minute counts if the patient is to have any chance of survival or recovery. The volunteer CFR who lives within minutes of a patient, can make a positive difference to the outcome for a critically ill patient, by providing excellent basic life support and care, until the arrival of the ambulance clinicians. On arrival of the full time ambulance staff, care of the patient is then handed over to them, and the CFR can either return to whatever it was they were doing when they were “called out”, or in some circumstances they may be asked to assist the ambulance crew with further care of the patient.
In Bridgnorth district alone, there are many people alive today because of the actions of our volunteers, and the equipment they carry.