Community First Responder take over week: Charlotte Tenneson talks about her role in a fledgling group

The Riseley CFR Group went live just two-and-a-half weeks ago with four volunteers active on the rota, among them Charlotte Tenneson, an artist, cat lover and the group’s co-ordinator.

“According to our last census the village has a population of 1,284 people and we are approximately 10 miles from the nearest hospital.  I think the fact that the village is so rural is one of the reasons I volunteered as a responder.

Well that, and the fact that I am an artist and I spend far too much time in my studio talking to my cat.  I thought it would do me good to get out a bit and do something useful for my community. It has been enjoyable and, at times, rather daunting training to be a responder and I personally feel a great responsibility to do things right.

I thought I knew my way around the village having lived here for 13 years, but when it comes down to it there are a lot of idiosyncratic nooks and crannies;  some houses just have names and the house numbers do run unexpectedly out of order in places.  It took me three days, mostly in the pouring rain, to hand draw a detailed map, which we now have laminated in the front pocket of our kit bag.

I am the co-ordinator for the group and had my first call out on my second day on rota; a cardiac arrest.  I made it to this call within two minutes and I know that I moved fast, because when I returned home some time later, my slippers were just there in the middle of the room,  as if I had been on a journey on the Star Trek transporter!

Since then I have been on one more call out, to an elderly lady who had fallen in her home.  This lady mostly needed reassurance until further help arrived, and my skills from my previous profession, as a Human Resources Practitioner, were called upon to fill the minutes with friendly chat at the same time as monitoring her airway, pulse and general health.  I think if I had previously been a hairdresser this might have come more naturally!  As with everything, I am certain that making light conversation in order to reassure and reduce anxiety in patients gets easier the more call outs you attend.

I think we have a good team here in Riseley, and we are lucky that we are supported by our local community, who understand the role of a community responder – the parish council raised the funding for the kit and training.  I hope we live up to their expectations and make a difference.  I know that I have already gained additional skills and this new role will be one of constant learning and challenge. And the bonus is that I have something more interesting to tell my cat when I get back to my easel.”

For more about Community First Responder take over week which was launched to highlight the wonderful work of our volunteer life-savers and encourage more to join please visit, our Facebook page, Twitter at or look out for the Twitter hash tag #CFRTakeover


About East of England Ambulance Service

Our aim is to be the recognised leader in emergency, urgent and out of hospital care in the East of England....
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