Swapping Foodservice PR for ER – Volunteering as a Community First Responder
God forbid you need to dial 999 this Christmas or at any another time of the year. But if you do and you need emergency medical assistance, what many of us don’t realise is that the first medically trained person who comes to your aid could well be a Community First Responder (CFR), rather than an ambulance crew.
There are thousands of CFRs around the country working voluntarily in their local communities and providing essential support to what is an over-stretched and under-funded ambulance service here in the UK. CFRs live locally and can literally be the difference between life and death, especially during busy periods, when ambulance crews are dealing with multiple calls. Those vital seconds and minutes between a CFR arriving on the scene and an ambulance are very often life-saving. What both amazes and frustrates me in equal measures is that these selfless CFRs do it without any payment, without any acclaim and without any fuss.
Many still work full or part time in different professions and give whatever time they can during their working week. Others like my dad, Alan Brenson, did not come from a medical background but since retiring have trained extensively to become a CFR. And so, for my Jellybean 12 Days of Giving I spent a day with my dad to find out more about the critical role of CFRs. I wanted to understand what motivates these incredible individuals to voluntarily give their time and put themselves into what must at times be very stressful and emotionally draining situations – but also immensely satisfying.
So off to Newington in Kent I went to the family home and experienced a fascinating day with my dad. In between emergency calls on his shift, he taught me basic CPR and first aid. He talked through the extensive training that CFRs must undergo. We visited the local ambulance station where he stocks up on medical supplies and we chatted to ambulance crews who could not be more appreciative of the vital role that CFRs have in the community. He recounted stories of life saving resuscitation he’d carried out on the very young and the elderly. Sadly, there are occasions where nothing can be done, this is of course incredibly difficult for everyone concerned. It certainly made a change from my day job, it was ER not PR.
What I came to very quickly realise during my day was that my dad and other CFRs do what they do with a great sense of pride, a real sense of duty and with real purpose. They expect no reward and just want to be there for their communities when they are needed most. That makes me incredibly proud and humble for everything my dad and other CFRs do – our country and our communities simply could not do without them.
So, as we enjoy Christmas this year, let’s be thankful for the role that these CFRs, alongside our amazing ambulance crews, perform in our communities every single day. Many of them of course will be working over Christmas as it’s always a particularly busy time for the emergency services. Thank you, dad, for giving me such an incredible insight and understanding of what being a CFR is all about and thank you to all the CFRs around the country for everything you do.
For more details about becoming a CFR or to pledge your support you should contact your local Ambulance Service. For the South East Coast Ambulance Service you can visit http://www.secamb.nhs.uk/get_involved/become_a_community_responder.aspx you can also follow them on Twitter @SECambulanceCFR
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