Community First Responders are trained members of the community who volunteer their time to respond to 999 calls within a three mile radius of their home or work.
Most areas have between five and 10 responders but Haywards Heath has just two, making it an area in need of more responders.
Lee Carr, Newly appointed assistant team leader for the South Mid Sussex Community First Responders, said anyone who wants to help their community could be eligible of taking on this vital role.
He said: “Community First responders come from many different backgrounds and do not receive any payment for the fantastic work they do within their communities, instead they gain valuable skills for life, a wealth of experience in emergency care and feel very proud that they are making a difference and changing the outcome to thousands of lives in their communities each year. Calling 999 for an ambulance can be a very frightening experience for a lot of people and a Community First Responder arriving prior to an ambulance can be a reassuring and calming presence for the patient and family involved. Having started my ambulance career as a community First Responder, I now work full time for South East
Coast Ambulance Service as frontline ambulance crew but I still volunteer my spare time to respond to 999 calls in my local town. I find the role extremely rewarding and thoroughly enjoy engaging with members of my community and Community First Responder teams across Sussex.”
Volunteers are trained by South East Coast Ambulance service.
They carry kit bags with life saving pieces of equipment including a defibrillator used to shock a patients’ hearts back into rhythm during a cardiac arrest.
Community First Responders are not a substitute for an ambulance but they can often be on scene in less than eight minutes and in a cardiac arrest situation can commence life saving treatment and shock a patient’s heart back in to rhythm.
Whenever a responder is despatched an ambulance will be despatched at the same time so the responder will hand over to the ambulance crew once they arrive.
In some rural areas the nearest ambulance may be some distance away but a responder can be there to reassure, commence treatment or monitor the patient.
Each responder’s kit includes a defibrillator which can cost in excess of £1,500 and the kits are purchased through fundraising and sponsorships so community awareness is paramount.
Lee added: “We have also been involved in implementing many public access defibrillators at sites across Sussex allowing members of the public to access a defibrillator in the event of a cardiac arrest and further increase a patient’s chances of survival prior to an ambulance arrival. The latest public access defibrillator site has just gone live on the eastern side of hurstpierpoint high street”
First responders must be able to commit to a minimum of six hours per week to be on duty and must be able to attend eight to 12 monthly training sessions at a local venue.
Responders will also be asked to commit to participating in fundraising events and awareness raising sessions within the local community.
Ideally, you will also have current or recent first aid qualification and/or experience
Responders also must be:
Aged 18 or over
Able to remain calm and professional in stressful situations
Trustworthy, caring and sympathetic
Able to pass an enhanced DBS check
Able to access a taxed and insured vehicle with a valid MOT
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Sussex.email@example.com