The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) is hoping the number 13 will prove lucky for the Northumberland area after welcoming its latest group of community life-savers.
A plea for volunteers was made by NEAS in January as part of the Trust’s commitment to train more community first responders (CFRs).
Ian Catchpole, Barry Coulson, Naomi Calder, Rebecca Hewitt, Keith Broughton, Chris Bradley, Danielle Liddle, Anthony Buchanan, Shaun McKay, Craig Silk, Adam Sparrow, Deborah Still and Rachel Lonsdale answered that call.
Between them, the areas they will cover include Newton-by-the-Sea, Amble, Cramlington, Bellingham, Seaton Deleval, Corbridge, Alnwick, Chatton, Rock and Ellingham.
This will add to the CFR schemes already established in Berwick, Belford, Wooler, Seahouses and Holy Island. Following the successful recruitment campaign in Northumberland, NEAS is now preparing to extend an advertisement to the rest of the North East.
After completing two days training at Alnwick Fire Station, the 13 new recruits are now ready to respond to life-threatening emergencies within their local communities prior to the arrival of an ambulance.
Responders are everyday members of the general 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, there were 189,931 999 calls for the Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area. Of those, 26,341 incidents were prioritised as life-threatening or potentially life-threatening – 1,477 were responded to by CFRs.
Two of the new CFRs, Adam Sparrow and Shaun McKay, are following in the footsteps of their relatives who are already working for NEAS.
Adam, who currently works for the NHS in adult social care, is following his dad, Paul Sparrow, who joined NEAS in September 2016 and works as an emergency care assistant out of Belford Ambulance Station. Paul is also a CFR and has been for the last two years.
Adam said: “I really wanted to be a CFR because of my dad, he definitely inspired me to go for it and learn what it is like to be a paramedic before I apply to be one.
“It is important that people come forward and apply for CFR posts as we can get to patients and help ease the pressure on 999 crews. I’m really looking forward to getting out there and getting started.”