First Responders – Syston

My name is Peter Bee, I have been a Community First Responder (or CFR for short) since November 2014 and was the first CFR to be based here in Syston. I am currently an ‘intermediate’ level responder (more on that later) and also the scheme Instructor.
Community First Responders are volunteers from all backgrounds and use some of their free time to respond, in our own cars, to a range of life-threatening medical emergencies in their local area – An Ambulance Service vehicle will also be sent as well.Readers may even have noticed Peter’s Red Megane with it’s “FIRST RESPONDER” signs on the doors and may have even met us in their hour of need.
There are two levels of responder, the basic level will attend patients over the age of 12-years-old suffering medical conditions such as chest pain, diabetic emergencies or difficulty breathing as well as Cardiac Arrests and Strokes. An ‘intermediate’ level responder receives additional training in a range of medications as well as enhanced training in Trauma and Paediatric emergencies. This allows them to respond to a far wider range of incidents, providing more in-depth care to a larger number of patients.
One line which is sometimes used is “When you dial 999 in an emergency, the person that saves your life may be a volunteer”.
In our case we work alongside East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) who provide all our training and dispatch us to attend 999 emergencies. The training provided results in nationally recognised qualifications. EMAS also helps administrate the recruitment process as responders are all required to have regular criminal records checks.
The system works because we operate in our local area and as a result can get to emergency incidents faster than Ambulance Service vehicles which often travel from further away. Because we are closer we can get there faster, even though we do not have the benefit of blue lights and sirens and have to stop for traffic lights and traffic jams as we are using our own cars.
CFR schemes are also required to raise all of our own funds through donations or grants, no funding is provided to the schemes by the NHS and we are required to purchase most of the equipment we need to provide this service with EMAS providing the drugs and sterile items.
Across the whole of the EMAS area there are approximately 1200 CFRs
So a bit about the North Leicester CFR scheme:
This scheme was formed in August 2015 when we split from another, larger, scheme in order to therefore create two smaller groups to each focus more closely on our area of coverage.
We started with three responders, myself in Syston and two others in Hamilton/Rushey Mead. EMAS were kind enough to loan us two sets of equipment which we are working to replace. We have since gained five more members of our scheme with a further two going through the process of joining. We currently have four active responders, two more going through a period of mentoring with other responders before they will start responding on their own and we also have two volunteers waiting for training, thus now totalling eight volunteers with two more soon to join us. This means that in Syston we now have two responders, one more in mentoring and another in the process of joining us.
So far, our fundraising efforts have been slow but we graciously received donations from Syston Town Council, Pukka Pies and Sainsbury’s (where one of our current responders is employed). This has enabled us to buy one more intermediate level set of kit through the sourcing of second hand equipment. We have also been able to raise a small amount of money through our charity collection pots at Hobby Horse Farm and the LR Harris and Sons boatyard as well as donation buckets which we take with us to events.
We continue to try to raise funds but unfortunately our efforts have been largely unsuccessful (with the exception of those above), probably due to our lack of self-promotion so far, with our responders not aiming to seek out the limelight but to make a difference to the community without seeking praise and publicity.
However, now we are looking to further increase the number of people we can help by increasing the number of equipment sets we have and increasing the number of responders. Our eventual aim is to be able to provide nearly seven day coverage.
Events we have attended have included the Syston Carnival 2016, the Charnwood Community Heroes 2016 day in Loughborough as well as Bradgate Park Emergency Services day 2016. At these events we also provided free CPR instruction to members of the public.
If we were to purchase our equipment from brand new it would cost us approximately £1200 for a ‘basic’ level kit and £1500 for an ‘intermediate’ level kit.
Since starting responding two years ago I, personally, have been able to volunteer 765 hours on call and have attended 224 emergency callouts in Syston and surrounding areas. That is the equivalent of an extra days work, every week, for the last two years, for free. I am also able to provide British Heart Foundation approved CPR training to the local area as well as defibrillator awareness training.
During 2016 the scheme as a whole volunteered 906 hours and attended 211 emergencies.
Due to the nature of what we do it is not possible to put a figure on the number of lives we have saved but we can be sure that there are people alive today that would not have been if we had not been there to provide rapid treatment.
I am also responsible for the regular safety and maintenance checks of the two Publically Accessible Defibrillators (PADs) in Syston (South Charnwood Leisure Centre and Tesco Metro) that were placed by EMAS ensuring that they always remain ready and available to be used in an emergency. One of which was actually deployed to an incident during December 2016, though thankfully it was not needed – there are also three other PADs in Syston which are checked by their respective owners.
New volunteers are encouraged to register their interest via the East Midlands Ambulance Service website www.emas.nhs.uk/join-the-team/
For donations enquiries we would ask for people to contact us by email on [email protected] or to contact our Chairperson, Harsha Kotecha on 0798 447 0877 or you can use our just giving page: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/north-leicester-cfrs