WHEN you call an ambulance in an emergency, you don’t expect a salesman or a carer to be first on the scene to help.
But that could be the case in Belper and Amber Valley thanks to a vital, life-saving service provided by volunteers.
For salesman and carer are just two examples of the day jobs done by members of the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) Support Team’s volunteer first responders.
Eight people, aged from their early 20s to mid-50s, are trained and ready to answer 999 calls in the Belper area and attend an incident to provide support and sometimes essential help in cases such as heart-attacks, before an ambulance crew can get there.
Volunteer Dave Roberts explained: “We respond to emergency calls through the 999 system and deal with patients until an ambulance arrives.”
There are two types of first responders – medical and community. Dave, who works as an air ambulance paramedic, is a medical first responder.
Medical first responders are current employees of the EMAS NHS Trust who have a clinical qualification and want to continue helping the public even when they are not at work. They can help patients as far as their training will allow.
The other seven members of the Belper team are community first responders. They have day jobs but use their spare time to provide extra help to the ambulance service.
They are provided with training, such as basic life support, defibrillation, oxygen therapy, basic airway management, and the administering of certain drugs.
The seven remaining team members are Rob Rose, Anthony Coe, Wayne Lenton, Keith Smith, Stephen Haywood, Declan Webb and Gemma Roberts Dave said: “Anyone can be a community first responder.
“All we ask is they are aged under 70, have a full, preferably clean, driving licence, and are physically fit.”
A steep rise in the demand for the 999 service and a sharp decrease in funding, along with poor education of exactly what to call 999 for, means the role of the first responder is becoming more and more vital.
Some examples of recent unnecessary calls to the 999 service include someone who was lonely and someone who had an itch in his ear.
Visit www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk if you are unsure what and what not to call 999 for.
The types of emergency calls which community first responders are sent to are carefully chosen and an ambulance is always dispatched at the same time.
To become a community first responder, or to help with fundraising for kit and uniforms, go to www.emvast.org.