It seems hard to believe – but your best chance of surviving a heart attack probably comes from the fact that there is trained volunteer living just around the corner from you…
These ‘Community First Responders’ volunteers are not to be found in every district – yet for Draycott, we are lucky enough to have twelve dedicated volunteers waiting for that emergency call.
In fact, if you are unfortunate enough to suffer a suspected heart attack, it is quite likely that a CFR will be first on the scene. They are also called out for bad falls; and, more and more, to road traffic accidents, strokes, faints, fittings and bleeds. They hold the fort while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
Which is why the first ‘medic’ you see might well turn out to be your next-door neighbour!
The ‘Fulford & District Community First Responder’ group is the one covering Draycott-in-the-Moors. It covers a largely rural area – which runs from Hilderstone to Meir Heath, but centring on Fulford and Draycott. In a ‘remote’ area like ours, ambulances can easily be twenty minutes away, but CFRs, because they live locally, are only five minutes from getting to us.
Responders are just ordinary folk – from businesspeople to retired persons, from young adults to senior citizens – who have all taken the training, provided by the NHS, and have qualified to be able to administer emergency treatment.
Why do they do it? Mel Avis, one of the group’s stalwarts, told us: “I can only speak for myself in terms of why I joined up – it was basically a mix of gaining new skills and also doing something positive in the local community. But I guess there will be similar drives for anyone who wants to be part of the caring or medical professions.
“Yes, it is quite an undertaking, and we’re a pretty committed bunch of individuals, but I guess the rewards come with the job!!”
None of the volunteers is paid.
Last year, four members of the group left, having been recruited by the West Midlands Ambulance Service. Fortunately there were some willing local residents quickly willing to step in and undergo the intensive training (and re-training – each CFR must re-qualify every three years…)
Mel told us that this CFR group is one of the busiest teams in the region. In 2013, members responded to nearly 500 emergency calls, and this year is already on course to beat that figure. That’s an emergency call-out nearly twice every day…
A few of the volunteers, Mel told us, are even qualified to respond on Blue Lights (though they will get Advanced Driver training to make sure they can do this safely).
The twelve members of the team work on a rota – though, of course, they never know what emergency is likely to come up and when.
But what is really astonishing is that such an important service relies completely on donations; as a charity, Fulford CFR, like all other CFRs, is not funded by the NHS. (Fortunately, a lottery grant last year helped boost the team’s funds, and enabled the purchase of a new emergency vehicle).
So, even if you haven’t the time or inclination to volunteer as an actual responder, you could help with raising funds – from shaking a bucket to sponsored events.
The latest fund-raising venture is the weekly charity-quiz night which is held at the Izaak Walton Inn in Cresswell every Wednesday night (chips provided free!). If you can get along, at least you know your money goes to a good cause.
And, if you are interested in becoming a First Responder, someone will usually be at the quiz night who can answer your queries. No prior experience is required.
To find out more, or to help, contact the Fulford & District CFRCo-ordinators by email, or phone 07946 185945.
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