What is a Community Responder?
A Community Responder is a member of the public who volunteers to help their community by responding to medical emergencies. A Responder is trained by Hampshire Ambulance Service in order that they can respond to medical emergencies in their own communities before the arrival of an emergency ambulance.
The concept of Community Responders originated in America due to the work of Dr Richard Cummins. He discovered that if a series of events took place in a set sequence, a heart attack victim had a greater chance of survival. These events are known as the “Chain of Survival”.
The Chain of Survival is
Early Access, Early Resuscitation, Early Defibrillation, Early Advanced Life Support.
When this chain was put into practice in America by increasing public awareness, training people in basic life support and placing defibrillators in the community it improved the pre-hospital survival rate to between 25% and 30%. There is also evidence to suggest that in cases of cardiac arrest, for every minute that goes by without defibrillation a patient's chances of survival decrease by 10%. By developing groups of Community Responders who are trained to provide the first three events in this chain, there should be a significant improvement in the survival rates in cases of cardiac arrest.
Since this initial concept, Community Responders has developed in Hampshire and volunteers now provide a vital support to their communities in may different situations. They are able to provide both emergency medical care for a wide range of incidents as well as providing support and reassurance to patients and their families following a medical emergency.
Anyone who wants to help their community can become a Community Responder. No previous medical experience or training is necessary although you will obviously need a caring attitude and be able to cope with potentially distressing situations.
Community Responders are trained in the use of Automatic External Defibrillators (AED's), Oxygen Therapy and how to treat and manage a wide range of potentially life threatening conditions such as epilepsy and asthma. This initial training is provided by qualified instructors from Hampshire Ambulance Service and takes place over weekends and evenings.
All participants are assessed throughout the course and will sit a short test before begin able to act as a Responder. Once qualified, Community Responders continue training and are required to re-qualify every 6 months.
Community Responders form small schemes in key areas as identified by the Ambulance Service. Most schemes consist of between 10 and 15 people and meet regularly to plan rotas, organise fundraising activities and awareness days. Each member of the scheme decides how much time they are able to give to Community Responders and rotas are drawn up accordingly by the coordinator. Some schemes provide cover 24 hours a day, seven days a week and others provide cover in peak periods.
Going to Incidents
Community Responders are dispatched to an incident in their community if they are identified as the nearest available resource by the Ambulance Communication Centre. They are alerted to calls via a pager and mobile telephone. An ambulance is always dispatched at the same time in order to ensure appropriate treatment is received.
Each Community Responder scheme covers an area within 5 minutes travelling time of their house, ensuring they are able to provide that vital immediate response. Responders are dispatched to the majority of calls the ambulance service receives but are not sent to incidents which could put them in danger such as road traffic incidents.
Community Responders travel to incidents in their own vehicles under normal driving conditions. Community Responders will need to check with their insurance company that their car insurance covers this – we will provide you with a letter to do this.
Each scheme raises the money within the local community to purchase the equipment it needs. Generally each scheme has one kit which is passed between the relevant members during their on-call time.
The Application Process
Community Responders deal with potentially vulnerable members of the community on a one to one basis so it is important that thorough checks are carried out on potential responders. Having completed the initial application form you will be required to complete a Criminal Records Bureau, provide suitable references and take part in a short interview.