Why I became a CFR – Part 3

Our next post about why he decided to become a community first responder is from Jim Whiteside from our Smallburgh community first responder group.

“I already volunteer for Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue and have been training with them to advance my first aid capabilities, but realised that skills soon go stale and that I would benefit from regular training and experience. That’s when I found out about the Community First Responder scheme and immediately applied.

In addition to the benefit to my search role, I’m also now able to be of real use in my community – I live in a quite sparsely populated rural location, so being able to provide effective Basic Life Support including CPR, defibrillation and oxygen therapy if needed before the arrival of ‘professional’ responders can significantly improve outcomes in some cases. It’s not rocket science – a few basic techniques that can make all the difference.

I felt that the training I received from the ambulance service laid a very solid foundation for the role that might be expected of me, which will be built upon in monthly training sessions with my local group. While I’ll never stop learning, I felt suitably prepared for the few calls I’ve attended since I’ve qualified.

The ‘text on, text off’ system means that it is quite easy to log on when I feel in a position to take calls, and it has easily integrated with my home life.

I’m really glad I seized the opportunity, and proud to be one of the ‘family’ of community first responders.

At the end of May, I attended my first cardiac arrest.

From the details on the text alert I knew it was serious and likely not to be a good outcome, so I was mentally preparing myself as I drove to the address.

I have to admit I was mightily relieved when I saw that I was not the first person on scene; two rapid response vehicles were also there, but I went in to see if I could give any assistance.

As I entered, I discovered that the two paramedics had just arrived and were moving the patient from the restrictive location they found him in to an area with more space. I was asked if I would start chest compressions.

The training kicked in – this is exactly like one of the scenarios we prepare for – I carried out chest compressions while the paramedics worked on his airway, placed defibrillation pads, made assorted checks and readings, gave adrenaline injections and a whole host of other processes.

When the ambulance arrived, the crew and I started taking turns on the chest as keeping up effective CPR is tiring. Having only recently completed a ‘clinical ride out’ shift on an ambulance, I knew where things like spare oxygen cylinders were kept so was also able to fetch supplies as needed when not working.

Sadly, despite our best endeavours and after a prolonged period with no sign of any improvement in the patient’s condition, the difficult decision was made to stop by the paramedic. However I sincerely hope that our actions gave the family who had gathered, some comfort that every effort had been made to give the patient every chance of recovery

I offer my deepest sympathies to the family, and once again my respect for the men and women of the East of England Ambulance Service grows – their professionalism and compassion is awesome.”

Jim Whiteside
Smallburgh community first responder group


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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