Waitrose chequeWhen people fall ill or become injured they often need medical attention and receiving early treatment, especially in very serious cases, increases a person’s chance of recovery. For example, in the case of a cardiac arrest, every minute without resuscitation and defibrillation reduces the chances of survival by 10 per cent.

The Ambulance Service responds immediately to all life threatening calls but delays can still occur due to:

  • High volumes of calls
  • Traffic congestion in towns
  • Remote rural locations

This is where Community First Responders have a critical role to play. Edenbridge Community First Responders are volunteer members of the community who are trained by the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) to respond to emergency calls providing vital assistance to people who are ill or injured prior to the arrival of the Emergency Services. In our local area, when a ‘999’ call is made, the SECAmb Emergency Operations Centre despatches an Emergency Ambulance and/or Response Car and at the same time, for serious and /or life threatening occurrences, contacts the Community First Responder who is on duty.

All Edenbridge Community First Responders live locally so they can attend an emergency within minutes. Usually the Responder is the first to arrive on the scene and begins to treat the patient by:

  • Clearing and controlling the airway of an unconscious patient
  • Providing resuscitation and heart defibrillation
  • Controlling any bleeding
  • Giving oxygen therapy
  • Making the patient feel more comfortable and at ease
  • Taking basic ‘observations’ (blood pressure, pulse rate, breathing, etc)
  • Reassuring worried family and friends
  • Using local knowledge to help the ambulance find the location quickly.

If a person has suffered a cardiac arrest, the most vital piece of equipment the Responder carries is the defibrillator. This is used to deliver a controlled electric shock to try to restore the patient’s heart to a normal rhythm. The quicker this can happen, the better the chance of survival. It can mean the difference between life and death.

The Edenbridge Community First Responders group formed in November 2014 as a charitable organisation. They fundraise for purchasing equipment necessary to provide the service and to raise awareness of life saving procedures in the community. Currently there are four qualified responders with three additional volunteers due to undertake training in the next 3 months. The final aim of Edenbridge Community First Responder group is to operate a 24 hour, 7 day week, 365 days a year emergency response service in Edenbridge and surrounding villages.

To find out more and be kept up to date with Edenbridge Community First Responders news please like the Facebook page www.facebook.com/edenbridgecfr. If you would like to make a donation or help with fundraising activities please email edenbridgecfr@outlook.com.

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Featured in: Issue 76 – May/June 2015