John Jeal - Harrow volunteer profile

Community First Responder John Jeal holding a defibrillatorJohn Jeal is a volunteer with the community first responder scheme in Harrow.

Why did you want to be a volunteer?

I wanted to be involved in a community-based activity and discovered the local community first responder scheme.

I attended an open evening in Harrow where there were presentations from the London Ambulance Service and the St John Ambulance. The presentations showed me that members of the local community, if correctly trained, can have a really positive impact on critically sick people.

What do you do for a living?

My day job is as a design engineer for a company producing vision inspection systems. These are used in all types of manufacturing to check the quality of a product.

The other community first responders come from all walks of life and all have different qualities they can bring to the scheme. I think the most important qualities of a community first responder are confidence and good communication skills.

What hours are you on duty?

I take a shift every week for four hours (7pm – 11pm) in the area centered on Stanmore.

Some of our group will be on call during the day and others in the evening. The good thing about volunteering in this way is that it is very flexible, so if because of other commitments, you cannot go on duty one week, you don’t have to. In my role I also coordinate the rota for the group.

We meet as a group regularly supported by a paramedic from the local ambulance station. This is important so we can practice the life-saving skills and equipment we use.

How often are you called each shift?

We are now seeing a responder getting activated approximately once for every four to six hours they work.

However, there are some shifts when there are no calls and others when we have seen three activations in a four hour shift.

When on duty, by being located in the community we are serving we are first on scene in about 30-40 per cent of calls. This allows us to start the assessment and treatment of a patient, and be able to pass information onto the ambulance crew quickly when they arrive.

When we are not first on scene we can often assist the ambulance crew or single responder in assessing and treating the patient.

What sort of medical emergencies have you attended?

I have attended patients suffering: chest pains, hypoglycemia, breathing difficulties and some patients that are unconscious.

We only attend patients over eight years old and we are not sent to calls that may be dangerous to us, or trauma emergencies such as road accidents.

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