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Community First Responders: Learning skills to help save lives in rural emergencies

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: August 27, 2014

  • Jill Bland, a rural community first responder for Mayfield and Ellastone, says local responders are vital in emergency situations.

  • Jill looks on a mapping system.

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A LIFE-SAVING group of volunteers is being given extra training to boost their capabilities to deal with emergencies in rural areas around Ashbourne.

Community First Responders (CFR) are trained by the ambulance service to provide fast treatment to people suffering from life-threatening injuries or illnesses in outlying communities.

Mayfield and Ellastone CFR group forms part of the West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS), and its responders undergo the First Person on Scene training course, which has three levels – basic, intermediate and enhanced. All three cover basic life support, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and using a defibrillator.

A WMAS spokesman said: "We have had first responders trained in the Enhanced First Person on Scene qualification for a number of years, and they operate very successfully in rural areas to support the needs of our patients while an ambulance is en route.

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"Earlier this year the trust reviewed this training package to ensure that the skills being taught are used frequently enough so that the level of care being delivered remains first class."

Jilly Bland has been a Mayfield and Ellastone responder for nearly two years, and she knows from experience how vital the role is for rural communities.

She said: "It's reassuring to hear that WMAS intends to continue offering high levels of training to responders in villages like ours.

"It will often take an ambulance crew longer to get to patients here than it would in say a big town or city, so responders are vital in these rural communities when there is a real emergency situation."

Responders who have completed more than 100 hours on duty will be able to apply for the enhanced training course. On successful completion, responders will be able to administer pain-killing drugs, as well as medicines such as adrenaline in cases of severe allergies, and glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) for people suffering an angina attack.

Andrew Griffiths, MP for Uttoxeter, believes that CFR groups are essential for villages in his constituency. He has encouraged WMAS to provide more training for responders.

He said "It is so important that the ambulance service utilises the vast knowledge and experience of first responders in places such as Ellastone and Mayfield.

"These are dedicated volunteers, making sure that help reaches those who call 999 as quickly as possible."

Mayfield and Ellastone CFR group is looking for new volunteers to join its team.

Applicants should be over 18 years old and hold a driving licence but no previous experience is needed as full training is given. For further details, visit the website at www.mayfieldellastonecfr. co.uk.

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