Volunteer lifesavers needed in Haringey

Volunteers are needed in Haringey to take part in an exciting new scheme that will see ordinary residents trained to become potential life-savers.

The London Ambulance Service is now recruiting for its new Community First Responder Scheme, which aims to train and equip volunteers to save lives in emergency situations, so residents of Haringey will receive life-saving treatment sooner, giving them more chance of survival.

Trevor Hubbard, Ambulance Operations Manager for the Service’s Edmonton complex which covers the borough of Haringey, said: “The Community First Responder Scheme will train teams of volunteers to a nationally-recognised level and provide life-saving treatment to people in their local communities.

“We’re asking for community-minded people to come forward and help set up local teams to be able to respond to life-threatening emergencies alongside ambulances, and so give residents in the borough a better chance of survival.”

The scheme is mainly aimed at getting a fast response to people who suffer a cardiac arrest, when the heart stops beating, as early intervention with basic life support and an automated external defibrillator (AED, a machine that delivers an electric shock to the heart) greatly increases the patient’s chances of survival. This process is called the chain of survival.

Trevor said: “When someone’s heart stops beating it’s crucial to begin basic life-support and defibrillation as soon as possible, every second counts. If a community first responder lives around the corner from the patient, they can begin this essential treatment while an ambulance is on the way.”

Community first responders will also be called to any emergency ambulance calls to patients over 12 years old. These include calls to: people with chest pains, people who are unconscious for an unknown reason and people with severe breathing difficulties.
Trevor said: “We’re looking for volunteers who are over 21, are physically fit, have a full driving licence and access to a car, and who are good communicators.

“A volunteer community first responder needs to be extremely reliable and trustworthy, good under pressure and able to remain calm in an emergency situation.”

Successful applicants will be given training in basic life-support and the use of an AED along with other aspects of basic medical care. Once in place, the teams of community first responders will share a bag of medical equipment, including an AED, and will operate a 24-hour rota to respond to life-threatening ambulance calls.

A Community First Responder Scheme open day will be held at Edmonton Ambulance Station on 4 October. Meanwhile, to find out more about how you could start helping to save lives in your community, or for an application pack, please telephone the London Ambulance Service on 020 7887 6638 or email [email protected].

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Notes to editors

Community First Responder Scheme FAQs

Q. What is a Community First Responder Scheme?
Community First Responder Schemes are teams of volunteers who are trained by the ambulance service to a nationally-recognised level and provide life-saving treatment to people in their local communities.

Q. Why are community first responders needed?
In the event of a cardiac arrest it is essential to get help immediately as without early intervention and defibrillation the chances of survival are slim. Community first responders are valuable links in the ‘chain of survival’. Community first responders can also help with people with other life-threatening conditions by being on-scene with a patient quickly.

Q. Who can become a community first responder?
A Community first responder should be over 21 years of age, be physically fit, have a full driving licence, access to a car, and have a sympathetic, caring approach to people. A volunteer community first responder needs to be extremely reliable and trustworthy, good under pressure and able to remain clam in emergency situations.

Prospective community first responders will undergo a Criminal Records Bureau check (CRB) which is carried out by the ambulance service and will then have an interview. If these are passed successfully then training can begin.

Following training the individual must able to achieve a satisfactory standard of proficiency.

Q. What incidents are Community First Responders asked to attend?
A Community First Responder would be asked to attend medical emergencies to support patients over 12 years of age. These can include:

  • Chest pains believed to be of cardiac origin, and at risk of cardiac arrest.
  • Cardiac arrests.
  • Patients who are unconscious for unknown reason.
  • Severe respiratory problems.
  • Drowning (patient out of water).

A community first responder would not be asked to attend trauma calls, road accidents, or any known violent or dangerous situations.

Q. What does Community First Responder Training involve?
Each volunteer will receive training in the delivery of basic life-support (BLS) and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) along with other aspects of basic medical care. Following training each volunteer will be assessed for competence in the delivery of BLS and the use of the AED. There is a statutory requirement to also take refresher training.

Q. Do Community First Responders drive the same way as other emergency services?
A. Community first responders are asked to attend medical incidents within their community, but are not permitted to break the legal speed limit and must drive safely and comply with all Road Traffic Act regulations. There are no legal exemptions, and failure to follow the regulations may lead to prosecution. Under no circumstances will they be authorised to use blue or green flashing lights.

For further information about London Ambulance Service or this news release please contact the communications department on 020 7921 5113.