First responder volunteers needed

VOLUNTEERS are being sought to join a first responders scheme in the Drummore area.

The potentially life-saving initiative will support the ambulance service in making sure that specific types of 999 calls get as fast a response as possible.

All volunteers will be specially trained under the guidance of the Scottish Ambulance Service to provide basic life support and to use a defibrillator.

Most call-outs will be cases of chest pain and cardiac arrest. Highly trained emergency medical dispatch centre staff will decide when to call out a first responder and in every instance an ambulance will be deployed at the same time.

The idea is that if the volunteer can reach the person needing help quicker than the ambulance, which might have a longer distance to travel, they can administer basic life support until the crew arrives.

James Jamieson, Red Cross senior service manager for emergency response and first aid, said: “It has been proven that if someone suffering cardiac arrest receives certain types of help within a specific time frame, their chances of survival are greatly enhanced. This is known as the chain of survival.

“The first responder scheme does not replace ambulances and the advanced early care that a highly trained crew can provide. Rather, it is a scheme that supports the Scottish Ambulance Service and improves a patient’s chances of survival by providing early life-saving treatment in the few minutes before the ambulance crew arrives.”

Jennifer McGlashan, community development officer for the Scottish Ambulance Service, added: “Speed of intervention can often be critical when responding to 999 calls. The first responder initiative creates an even faster response for patients and is co-ordinated with our existing ambulance resources. In a medical emergency it is often the simple first aid skills, like making sure an airway is clear, that save a life.

“The programme is an enhancement to our existing ambulance resources and each scheme works locally with our staff to ensure ongoing refresher training in basic life-saving skills and the use of medical equipment. In recent years, advances in technology have been made, and many interventions, which were previously performed only by health care professionals are now available to lay people such as first responders. These include external defibrillators and lightweight oxygen delivery systems.”

Anyone interested in volunteering for the first responder scheme can find out more by attending an open night at Drummore Community Hall from 8pm on Wednesday, August 22.

For further information on Red Cross first aid training and services, visit www.redcross.org.uk