Urgent recruitment drive as number of Lives First Responders volunteers dwindles to just three
WOULD you be able to help your neighbours in a medical emergency?
The Lives First Responders scheme provides vital support to the ambulance service in Lincolnshire, training volunteers to attend people needing urgent treatment within their communities.
And now, new recruits are being urged to take on the challenge.
The first group to call for more help is Marshchapel Lives. It will take East Midlands Ambulance service an average of 21 minutes to get to the remote village, but the first responders can be by your side in just eight.
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However, since they set the group up in 2004, the number of volunteers able to deal with call-outs has dwindled from seven – at its peak – to just three.
The group desperately needs new members – especially as the nearest stations in Louth and Grimsby may be closed as East Midlands Ambulance Service reorganises.
Under new proposals, the two stations would be replaced by a state-of-the-art facility at Elsham about 45 minutes away.
Co-ordinator Judy Draycott said: "People often don't realise how remote we are until they need an ambulance. If someone is having a heart attack, 21 minutes could be too long to wait.
"We can keep the heart going with emergency treatment or just be the hand-holders to talk people through it until the ambulance arrives.
"If Louth and Grimsby close, First Responders could be even more vital, but we need people to join us."
The group was set up in 2004 after a man died from a heart attack in a Marshchapel pub while waiting for the ambulance.
Volunteers are now trained by member Dave Whitlock and then assessed by paramedics at Horncastle before they are ready to help people.
When qualified, they can log onto the first responder call-out system and East Midlands Ambulance Service will deploy them when they are closer to a person in need than the nearest paramedics.
Mr Whitlock said: "We aim to get to any call-out in what we call the golden eight minutes because arriving in that time will significantly increase the chance of survival.
"We take oxygen and a defibrillator wherever we go and are trained to use them but our main tools are our ears and mouths.
"Just having someone to talk to can calm people and we can communicate with paramedics so they can act quickly on arrival."
Responder Jan Irving added: "The adrenaline gets going and it can be very exciting but it is very rewarding too."
If you hold a driving licence, are willing to give up your spare time and are physically able enough to use the equipment, you could help. All training will be provided and you will not incur any expenses. Phone Judy Draycott on 01472 388514.