Community First Responders (CFRs) are members of the public trained by the ambulance service to attend 999 calls in their local area. They are taught basic life support and other skills which are designed to provide patients with initial care before the arrival of an ambulance or fast response paramedic. Every NHS ambulance trust utilises CFRs and they are normally organised into geographically defined schemes, typically in rural areas, headed up by a scheme coordinator.
In early 2014, a Graduate Entry Medical (GEM) student approached the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) and the Students Union with the view to creating a CFR scheme specifically for University of Nottingham students. The idea was well received and the scheme was up and running by April of that year. At the time, EMAS happened to be running a trial which saw them provide 15 CFR schemes across the region with a dedicated response car. The proposal to start the Nottingham University scheme thus came at a convenient time and we managed to secure the use of one of the trial vehicles. As the GEM course is based at the Medical School’s Royal Derby Hospital site the first car was based there and by November 2014 the scheme had grown to more than 40 student responders. This rapid growth lead us to seek a second vehicle which was provided to us on the agreement that the costs for the second car would be met by the scheme. This second vehicle was based at the Medical School at the QMC in Nottingham and doubled our capacity overnight. By the end of 2014 we had been to over 190 calls.
The scheme has continued to flourish and in May 2018 we took delivery of two new response cars, generously funded by our partners and community fundraising. This has allowed us more space for our current equipment, as well as the possibility for further expansion of skills and equipment in the future.
Since 2014, 159 Responders were trained by the East Midlands Ambulance Service to provide high-quality and essential pre-hospital care in the community. Since the start, over 8000 jobs were allocated to us and attended almost 7000 of them. In the past two years, our First on Scene ratio is above 70%, which enables our Responders to provide the patient with the vital emergency care they needed, quicker than it would otherwise have come.
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From providing equipment and training, to clinical governance and adminstration support, the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) have been instrumental in establishing and operating the scheme.
Affiliation with the Student's Union has ensured our project is run with sound administration governance and guidelines. The leadership training provided will ensure the scheme is run efficiently and continuity is maintained.
The publicity help and advice provided by the University of Nottingham has ensured news and exposure of our project has spread. They have also provided valuable facilities for training and meetings. We were lucky enough to be awarded a grant of £7,000 from the Impact Campaign which has made this project possible. The generous donations of alumni, staff and friends of the University of Nottingham contribute to this fund.