Call for more first responders across Warwickshire

The West MIdlands Ambulance service is hoping for life-saving volunteers in every village

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West Midlands Ambulance Service has issued a call for more community first responders [CFRs] across Warwickshire.

Anyone over the age of 18 can apply for the volunteer role as long as they have a full driving licence and are physically fit. Training is provided - usually over a six-day course - and, if successful, the responders will normally spend at least one shift with an ambulance crew before working with other responders to give them a full understanding of the role.

Murray MacGregor, communications director with the ambulance service, explained to this week’s [WED] meeting of Warwickshire County Council’s adult social care and health overview and scrutiny committee: “We are looking to try and increase the number of CFRs and would love to have one in every village. In Staffordshire, parish councils have played a huge role in setting up schemes and making sure they keep going.

“All CFRs across the country will have the same training level which makes it much easier for us to see what they are getting. They will continue to play an important role for us particularly in the rural areas. The chances of us getting to the furthest corners of Warwickshire in seven minutes for a cardiac arrest are slim. Having those community responders will save lives and are a key part of what we are doing.”

Mr MacGregor also called for an increase in the number of defibrillators across the county.

He said: “Currently your chances of surviving a cardiac arrest in the UK if you are out of hospital are seven per cent. If you go to Denmark it is 25 per cent and the reason is that for years and years they have been teaching kids to do CPR and they have defibs everywhere.

“When a call comes into us and it is identified as a cardiac arrest, the system automatically searches for any defibs we are aware of - but only that are within 200 metres of where the patient is because that is about as far as people are prepared to run, open the box, get the defib and run back.

“You need to have a defib at least every 400m for us to be able to identify it. You need them everywhere. If someone starts giving CPR then it buys us time.”

He also urged that any businesses or organisations with a defibrillator registered them on a British Heart Foundation system called The Circuit (www.thecircuit.uk) so that it appeared on the database used by the ambulance service.