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First Responders appeal for volunteers

PUBLISHED: 13:02 27 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:39 05 July 2010

WHEN an emergency occurs it can seem an age until that reassuring blue light appears.

But throughout Waveney there are hundreds of selfless individuals who can be at the scene within minutes to offer life-saving assistance.

WHEN an emergency occurs it can seem an age until that reassuring blue light appears.

But throughout Waveney there are hundreds of selfless individuals who can be at the scene within minutes to offer life-saving assistance.

Community First Responders are groups of people, mostly with full-time jobs, who give up their spare time to help the ambulance service in its quest for rapid responses to patients.

Using their own cars and equipment, most of which they raise funds for, the responders, based in many villages and towns, can arrive in minutes to give oxygen or use a defibrillator on someone having heart problems as ambulances and paramedics are making their way to the scene.

The Carlton Colville Community First Responders are a group of eight who work in their immediate area and have beaten the ambulance 140 times since they first started two years ago.

Much of their fundraising is co-ordinated by Lorraine and Paul Light and other active members include Stuart Littleton, who works in telecoms and is a former lifeboat crew member, Anne Willis, a student nurse, and her husband David, who works from home.

Paul said: “The reason behind us is, if somebody is in cardiac arrest, the quicker we get to them the better the chances of survival are and less chance of major organ damage. The earlier the intervention, the more positive the result. It's not just about dealing with cardiac arrests, though - we also give oxygen therapy and we give reassurance, both to the patient and the next of kin. We also help to find out the symptoms, history and medications they may be on, which can make a lot of difference.

“Carlton Colville was rapidly expanding, and there was a lot of demand on the emergency services, especially with the Mutford Lock crossing, which can at times cause considerable delays. There was a real need for people to support the ambulance trust, which is why, with the help of the parish council, we decided to form.”

First responders are all given 16 hours of training from the East Anglian Ambulance Trust, with further training received at regular intervals. Members give as much or as little cover as they like, but in a normal week the Carlton Colville volunteers give up anything between 60 and 100 hours. The response to 140 patients only reflects about a quarter of the calls they receive since on many occasions the ambulance crew is closer.

Between them they have two kits, including phones, covering both ends of the village, with each containing all the basic first aid supplies, oxygen and an automated external defibrillator.

When a 999 call is made the ambulance service controller sends out the information to both the ambulance crew and the nearest first responder. “If we get a call and we can be there before the ambulance, then we will be,” said David.

The group recently held a bucket collection at Morrisons at Pakefield that raised £690. Paul said: “People came in from miles around and were very generous. Just as important to our volunteers were the many who came up to say how Community First Responders had helped them or a family member in the past and how much they appreciated the service.”

Interested in joining the team? Then telephone Paul on 01502 514775.

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