In 2003, after a packed public meeting in the village hall, a unanimous decision was made by the people of Port William to form the first ever life-saving ‘First Responder’ scheme to be set up in Dumfries and Galloway.
Since then there are now nine teams active in Dumfries and Galloway and over 70 in Scotland as a whole.
Starting with a blank piece of paper, a formal committee was dually elected, a constitution was created and applications to become a charity were set in place. With a group of 14 volunteers signing up to become responders and training and equipment being the next priority, a list of fundraising events including sponsored walks, strawberry teas and many other events soon followed. This allowed the team to purchase an automatic external defibrillator, mobile phones, protective clothing, and other essential equipment. The training of responders is undertaken by Scottish Ambulance Service Development Officer and after two day training and examination; the 14 volunteers were presented with ‘First Person on Scene’ qualification.
The team in Port William currently have 17 responders covering a rota 24/7. In the past 10 years they have attended over 170 calls. The team are asked to respond to category A calls i.e. chest pains, breathing difficulties or collapses for an unknown reason. They are called out in support of an ambulance already en route.
The team in Port William continue to appreciate the support of the local community and local employers for allowing staff to leave work at a moment’s notice and for the family’s of responders who have to change plans at a moment’s notice. Without the enthusiasm or dedication of the volunteer responders and committee members who willingly give their time to care for others Port William would be a poorer community.