Volunteers to help save lives

A NEW scheme for volunteers who carry out vital support work for ambulance services has been launched in Thaxted.

The Thaxted First Responder group re-launched in July with three new members, led by co-ordinator Paul Doe who also co-ordinates the Saffron Walden group.

First Responders are activated by the East of England Ambulance Service to attend emergency calls where time can make the difference between life and death.

Volunteers take it in turn to be ‘on call’ and carry basic first aid equipment and a simple-to-use automated external defibrillator (AED).

Mr Doe said: “It’s been great to be part of re-launching the group, which had been wound down about a year ago. We’ve had a lot of support from the ambulance service, and over the past two months we’ve worked hard to make sure we’ve got a good base of volunteers in the community.

“The benefit of having a Thaxted group is that our volunteers should only be four minutes away from a call, be it that they live or work locally.

“This way a patient can be assessed, and treatment started, during those vital first minutes of an emergency, while an ambulance response is on its way.”

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An emergency operations centre sends responders to immediately life threatening situations following a 999 call. Despite being dispatched at the same time as the ambulance crew, they often arrive beforehand because they are based so locally.

Care can then be provided until the ambulance arrives, usually only a few minutes later.

The group has so far been dispatched to eight jobs, but with more volunteers, they could give a greater amount of cover.

The EEAST’s Essex community partnership manager Wendy Risdale-Barrs said: “I’m so pleased to see the group up and running again in this corner of Essex – they provide such a good lifeline to communities, and because it’s not unusual to be called to neighbours or even family members, some poignant relationships are often established.

“As with any voluntary group, the more members we can recruit, the more cover we can give. People can be on call for as little or as much time as they’re able; what’s important is that they want to contribute something worthwhile to Thaxted in a positive way.” For more information on the group call 0845 6013733 or e-mail responderadmin@eastamb.nhs.uk.