Appeal to attract new life-saving volunteers

NEAS representatives with some of the CFR team. Picture by Doug Pittman
NEAS representatives with some of the CFR team. Picture by Doug Pittman

A volunteer recruitment drive has been launched in Northumberland to encourage residents to become lifesavers.

Community First Responders (CFRs) help North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) by responding to life-threatening emergencies in their community prior to the arrival of an ambulance.

They exist in cities, towns and villages where it may be a challenge for the emergency ambulance to arrive within the crucial first few minutes.

Their aim is to provide immediate care to a patient where every second counts; a patient who suffers a cardiac arrest stands a much better chance of survival if someone with a defibrillator can attend the patient in the first minutes of collapse.

Responders are everyday members of the public who are trained by NEAS in basic first aid and life support.

They are provided with oxygen and a defibrillator and are deployed by NEAS to life-threatening emergencies – such as chest pain, breathing difficulties, cardiac arrest, and unconsciousness – if they are the nearest resource, followed by the next nearest emergency care crew.

In 2016, 1,477 life-threatening or potentially life-threatening incidents were responded to by CFR in the Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group area.

CFR schemes are already established in Berwick, Belford, Wooler and Seahouses.

NEAS now wants to boost these schemes with additional volunteers, as well as setting up new schemes in north Northumberland, including Holy Island and the Borders.

As well as the CFR schemes, there are also more than 75 community public-access defibrillators across Northumberland, with hundreds of members of the community trained by NEAS to undertake basic first aid. CFRs often help to deliver this training.

Over the last year, more than 100 hours were given by CFR to help train nearly 2,000 members of the community across the North East.

Volunteers attend three days of initial training with an annual re-certification and update. CFRs choose how much time they give up. For details and to apply, visit www.jobs.nhs.uk and type in the job reference 340-CFRN- 12-16.