Community responders have been operating within the South
East since December 2000. The schemes were first introduced
in an effort to provide early pre-hospital care to communities we
have particular difficulty in reaching within those life critical early
minutes following cardiac arrest, a heart attack, patients who
are unconscious or suffering any other form of life threatening
illness or injury.
Whilst South East Coast Ambulance Service performs very well, we have to recognise
that there are some areas within the community that are extremely difficult to reach quickly. Even if we significantly increased our ambulance resources, we would still not be able to deliver the
speed of response necessary to get to some patients with life threatening conditions. This
is where the role of the community responder is vital.
Volunteer responders receive training in basic life support and in the use of an automatic
defibrillator (machine to shock the heart) by the Ambulance Service. The 999 Emergency
Dispatch Centre (EDC) is then able to send a community responder to life threatening
calls within their local community, to provide the care and comfort necessary whilst the
ambulance is on its way. Community responders are not a substitute for the ambulance
crews, but are an added bonus for any patient they may attend. Working with the
Ambulance Service, community responders can ‘buy time’ for the patient until the crew
arrives. Since December 2000 over 7000 patients throughout the South East Coast area
have already benefited from the intervention of community responders.
Our aim within South East Coast Ambulance is to provide the appropriate care to life
threatening emergency calls within 8 minutes. Sometimes, particularly in the case of
cardiac arrest calls, this can still be too long and this is where the community responder
role is of particular benefit.
There is currently only one community responder in the Tonbridge area however we have at least three people waiting to be trained and consequently start their role as a volunteer. The training to become a community responder is funded by the ambulance service, however the cost of the kit for each responder has to be raised by their local scheme. The cost of each kit is approximately £1700, thereofre I would be extremely pleased to hear from anyone who might be able to help with a donation or even to help with fund raising. Additionally if anyone is interested in becoming a volunteer responder and would like more details, please contact the Tonbridge team leader, Claudine Phillips on 07859 933640