ASHBOURNE'S group of volunteer lifesavers desperately need more local people to get involved if they are to maintain the high level of service and cover the town's needs.
The Community First Responders are often the first on scene when an emergency 999 call is put through to East Midlands Ambulance Service and carry essential life support equipment including oxygen, nebulisers and defibrillators.
There is a dedicated team of six covering Ashbourne town, but group co-ordinator Simon Biggs said: "Ideally we would like to have another four or five volunteers to be able to really give the town and outlying villages the cover needed.
"If we don't get more responders volunteering then we simply can't provide round-the-clock cover.
"It would be great to have four responders on duty at a time, and even better if we could offer 24/7 cover. Anyone can be a responder, and it's such a worthwhile and rewarding thing to do.
"Applicants need to be over 18 and have a full driving licence – this is especially important now as we will be taking hold of our new response car later in the month.
"There's no need to worry about not having experience either, as we offer full training through East Midlands Ambulance Service, and, of course, all the kit and uniform is provided.
"In an emergency it's often the first few minutes that make the difference so the more trained and available responders we have, the better it is for the people of Ashbourne."
The group, which was formed in 2000, used to be part of St John Ambulance, but in 2012 it joined forces with the area's ambulance service.
Responders will generally be asked to attend emergencies such as suspected heart attacks, cardiac arrest, diabetes, fits, strokes and any other medical conditions, but full training and support is given.
Linda Dutton, who has been a responder with the group for two years, said: "I was nervous to begin with, everyone is, but you soon get your confidence up.
"Often it's just about calming someone down, letting them know help is on the way and reassuring them.
"But it can just as easily be a full emergency when we arrive – and in that case we all know what to do as we have been given excellent training in life support as the first people on scene.
"It's a great feeling to know you have helped someone, and even better when you know your prompt response has helped to make that difference between life and death."
The group is entirely funded by donations.
Anyone interested in finding out more, either about supporting financially or becoming a responder, should telephone Simon on 01335 344705.