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- Last Updated on Sunday, 01 September 2013 12:36
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Pennard & Bishopston Community First Responders are on the look out for new recruits! This group of First Responders are part of the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Wales-wide network of volunteer groups trained to give emergency life support. They’re one of the most active in Wales with a programme of visits arranged as well as the emergency cover they provide to an area which includes Bishopston, Southgate, Parkmill, Lunnon, Kittle and Murton.
First Responders are trained by the the Ambulance Service to use defibrillators (which give electric shock treatment in cases of sudden cardiac arrest) and oxygen equipment and emergency resuscitation techniques. But the Pennard & Bishopston group, with only 10 trained responders remaining after recent retirements, is finding its resources stretched.
Co-ordinator Jerry Collins said: “We’ve been in existence now for about 12 years and our rota covers four nights and two part days but we'd love to cover more of the week. We do get about 3 or 4 calls per week on average but as we can't cover 24/7with the present number of volunteers many of the calls unfortunately go unanswered.”
“We do have the skills to make a difference to someone whether it’s a heart attack case or a young child not breathing.”
Ambulance Service First Responder Officer for Central and West Region Stephen Roberts said: “Pennard First Responders are a very active group and provide a very important service because specialist training for members of the public in basic life support skills can and does save lives.
“The First Responder scheme does not, in any way, replace emergency services but is a valuable and important additional resource which can be vital in the first few minutes of a life-threatening situation. This is evidenced by the high rates of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation by bystanders corresponding with patient survival rates. The earlier someone suffering from a heart attack receives defibrillation, the greater the chance of survival. In the time I’ve been a Technician and a Paramedic, it’s been frustrating that when somebody suffers a heart attack that very little has been done to assist in the care of the casualty other than maybe to place a blanket around them and talk to them while they’re waiting for the Ambulance. They’ve usually been left, when unconscious lying flat on their back and rather than die of a heart attack they actually die through asphyxiation, they choke to death because their tongue blocks their airway off. The Ambulance might be only a short distance away but that may still be too long in the sense of not doing anything. If an airway is left blocked for three minutes then the brain may start to suffer because of the lack of oxygen.
Steve added that the Ambulance Service teaches people very simple, basic procedures – they are simple, effective – and they work.
“What we teach is how to manage a person who’s collapsed, how to do oxygen therapy and how to use a defibrillator. We can teach people to use a defibrillator safely in very short time. The technology has come on in leaps and bounds so you don’t require any specialist skills and knowledge - the machine will do the job for you."
“The work of First Responders focuses around the cardiac emergency, that’s the core reason for First Responders being there. People normally don’t die of a cut finger or a broken leg but you will die if your heart stops and the patient left with no immediate intervention. It’s as simple as that."
“What we are aiming to have a really good core of volunteers who will, through the use of a robust training package, feel comfortable and confident to deliver what are predominantly real life-saving skills. The volunteers to date have found it a very worthwhile project to get involved with, the knowledge and the skills they have received to obtain the level of a Community First Responder are so easy to achieve."
“The First Responders provide a service that complements the provisions of the Ambulance Service. There is no such thing as a typical First Responder – they come from all walks of life. There are retired professionals, a school dinner lady, a chapel minister, a bank manager and any other background you’d care to mention.”
To become a First Responder you must be between 18 and 70 years old, be physically fit and hold a clean UK driving licence.
Anyone interested in joining the Pennard group can contact Jerry Collins on 01792 234108 o0r Stephen Roberts on 01792 562900.