What It Really Feels like to Save a Life - First Responder Volunteers Tell How They Make the Ultimate Difference; Community First Responder Teams Help to Support the Ambulance Service by Providing Emergency Medical Care to People in Their Community. as the Welsh Ambulance Service Encourages More People to Volunteer, a Number of Responders across the Country Describe Their Experiences
WHEN a patient faces a serious emergency, each second can be vital, but a helping hand from a volunteer Community First Responder can make a vital difference to their lives.
Community First Responders (CFRs) are volunteers who donate their spare time to attend appropriate 999 calls and provide first hand emergency care to people in their own community.
When a 999 call is made, CFRs are alerted by the Welsh Ambulance Service's three control centres and are sent to certain types of calls at the same time as an ambulance so they can provide the essential care needed until the vehicle reaches the scene.
The volunteers are trained by the Welsh Ambulance Service to administer basic first aid skills, administer oxygen therapy, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of a defibrillator.
There are more than 1,000 volunteer CFRs working day and night in Wales supporting the ambulance service in providing an initial response to patients suffering from life-threatening and potentially life-threatening conditions.
Although they do not replace or alter the normal response of a paramedic in a rapid response vehicle or an emergency ambulance, they can provide support and potentially life-saving treatment to the patient until the team arrives.
Volunteers are located in cities, towns and rural areas across the country and do not need first aid experience to join their local group as full training is provided.
Many of the Welsh Ambulance Service CFRs sign up to the scheme following an incident or event involving family and friends in personal circumstances.
Vicky Hignett, a CFR team co-ordinator from Denbigh, said: "What led me to becoming a first responder was my father dying of a cardiac arrest, it was too late for him but now I feel I can help someone else.
"When my first call came through it was a patient with breathing difficulty and chest pains. My adrenaline was pumping inside of me but my training kicked in to action and we made a difference.
"Being a first responder not only gives you the chance to really do something for your community, it gives you the chance to make a huge difference to someone needing vital help who could be a relative, neighbour or friend. I enjoy and respect the role because it gives me the chance to really give a lot back to my community."
In Pontyberem, near Llanelli, the first responders team was set up in December 2010 by 18-year-old identical twin brothers Joshua and Daniel Elias. Both Joshua, a healthcare support worker, and Daniel, a fireman, have been trained in First Aid skills since they were 14. Daniel said: "From a very young age we have always had an interest in doing First Aid.
"We completed our first course when we were members of the Scouts in Carmarthen. We have both been interested because we enjoy working with people and helping them and we both have an interest in the human body.
"We first became interested in CFRs after dealing with a road traffic accident in 2009 where a motorcyclist had come off his bike and into a stone wall in the village. I was first on scene and began treatment of the casualty while waiting for the ambulance.
"We also had experience of looking after our neighbour who had Alzheimer's and while her husband was in meetings we use to go down and look after her. On several occasions she became unwell and required hospital treatment. Incidents like these made us think of how we could help more in our community on a volunteer basis, so we enquired about becoming CFRs and ended up setting up a CFR team in our home area of Pontyberem."
The volunteers at Pontyberem First Responders are a small team made up of four responders that live locally and three that travel from Llanelli.
The team started responding on December 5 and attended their first call within hours.
Since their formation, the Pontyberem team have attended a wide range of different calls including cardiac arrests, breathing problems, fitting and chest pains, and calls where people have fallen over and could be suffering from a stroke or heart attack. …