Torver & District First Responders
In 2003, people active in the community were aware that, because of the distance from the village to the Emergency Ambulances stationed in Ambleside, Barrow, Millom and Ulverston, a significant delay of up to 45 minutes could be expected before they attended any emergencies.
As volunteer First Responder teams were established, or were being trained in other remote communities throughout Cumbria, recruitment of volunteers from our village began to take place. If sufficient numbers of people were interested in training, then we would be able to fund and train our own new group who would be able to give initial support to persons requiring Emergency Ambulance attention, prior to the arrival of the ambulance.
The Ambulance Service criteria for callout of First Responders are limited to:- Allergies/Rash/Medical Reaction/Stings, Breathing Problems, Cardiac/Respiratory Arrest, Chest Pain, Choking, Diabetic Problems, Drowning (near)/Diving Accidents, Heart Problems, Stroke (CVA), Unconscious/Passing Out.
The response from the Torver villagers was very good, and training was arranged through Cumbria Ambulance Service who provided two excellent members of their paramedic staff, Jeff Barr and Ken Moore.The training that Jeff and Ken implemented was on a purely voluntary basis in their own free time, and took place in the Village Hall in a series of evening sessions.
The original team from 2004 - now much reduced as people have moved away
At this time, the group had to provide all of their own equipment in order to be self-sufficient.
This comprised portable defibrillator, thermal blanket, ground sheet, practice defibrillator and practice mannequins. Each volunteer also had to be kitted out with telephone pager (including monthly rental), kit bag, hands free head torch, torch, high visibility jackets, face masks, gloves, wipes, scissors and other sundry disposables. All of this equipment resulted in a start-up cost of around £2500.00, which was raised from local charities, benefactors, collections and many other fund raising events.
Each team member also had to have positive vetting from the Criminal Records Bureau to enable them to operate in the community on behalf of the Ambulance Service.
After a period of about six instruction lessons, the group was examined by the Ambulance Service, given individual certificates of competence, and the group was then able to go “live”, and provide support to the Emergency Ambulance Service.
In 2007, because of increasing potential risks to health of volunteers, the Ambulance Service required each member to have protection against Hepatitis, which comprised a course of three injections and a blood test to see that the immunisation was effective. This resulted in another unsupported cost of around £70.00 per person.
During 2007, the local G.Ps no longer had to provide emergency out-of-hours cover for the community, with the effect that the Emergency Ambulance Service, (which only had 26 vehicles to cover all of Cumbria), had to cope with a greatly increased workload.
As part of the Ambulance Service remit and funding, they were expected to attend any call within 8 minutes or have their annual budget reduced, a situation that was clearly impractical in remote and inaccessible areas. As a result of these implications, the importance of the local First Responders came to the forefront as they became part of the process, and their attendance at emergencies counted as ambulance response time. A beneficial effect of this is that the Ambulance Service now provides all consumable equipment support, but the large expense of a defibrillator and telephone pagers, (with their monthly upkeep), still have to be provided by the volunteer group.
During 2007/8, so as to give further and better support to the Ambulance Service for their callouts, the First Responders received additional training to provide oxygen therapy to patients in need. The Ambulance Service, in recognition of the importance of First Responders, had by this time trained volunteer instructors to carry out this extra training and ongoing support. Our group was very fortunate to be appointed the very knowledgeable and capable Peter Munday from Broughton Mill as their instructor. Following this further training, the individuals have received competence approval and are pleased to be able to provide this important support to those in need.
Whilst the village of Torver has a relatively low population with a commensurate lower per capita expectation of emergency call-out, during holiday periods the population increases dramatically, and we trust that people are aware by word of mouth of the instances that the group have been available to provide support.
Improvements are still to be made with the telephone pagers, which have proven to be very erratic in operation because of lack of network coverage in the area. This has resulted in call-out messages not being received by all of the team. However, other means of communication are being tested by the Ambulance and other Emergency Services, which, it is hoped, will obviate this particular problem.
The voluntary service is well received in the community for the support that it offers, but it must be still kept in mind that as a voluntary body we have to rely on financial support from the public.
Additionally, because of some of the Torver group retiring or moving away from the area, we are continually looking for new volunteers in the area to join us, so as to ensure the continuity of the group.
The training is very interesting, not at all onerous, and is beneficial to the individual as well as the community, and not least to the Ambulance Service.
So as to ensure that the Ambulance Service standards of response and therefore their funding are not depleted, they deserve our very best support.
Contact: Carole Barr Telephone: 015394 41088 Email: CAROLEBARR2@aol.com