Could you be a part of a life saving volunteer network?

Ramsey's Gerry Jones, co-ordinator of the island's Community First Responders

Ramsey's Gerry Jones, co-ordinator of the island's Community First Responders

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A call has gone out for new volunteers to swell the ranks of the Community First Responders (CFRs) in the north.

The volunteers are trained in life-saving by first aid charity St John Ambulance, and despatched by the Ambulance and Paramedic Service to tend to those awaiting ambulances in rural areas.

They can react to cardiac arrest with CPR and defibrillation, supply oxygen to those with breathing difficulties, offer reassurance and gather information to help the arriving paramedics, saving time and, potentially, lives.

The 49 current CFRs respond to 6,000 calls a year in their local area, from either their home or workplace, using their own vehicles.

Volunteers, who must be 18 or over, undertake two weekends’ classroom-based training. No medical experience is necessary.

The next course takes place at St Olave’s Church hall in Cumberland Road, Ramsey (opposite Ramsey Cottage Hospital) on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 of September, and the following weekend.

There’s also an opportunity to chat with Gerry Jones, the island co-ordinator of the volunteer network, on either Monday September 2, from 7.30pm to 8.30pm at St Olave’s Church hall, or Monday September 9, from 7pm to 8pm, at St John Ambulance headquarters in Glencrutchery Road, Douglas.

Gerry said: ‘St John Ambulance works hard to boost numbers of CFRs and establish new units. Schemes operate in the north, south and west of the island and we are looking to recruit more volunteers in these areas, especially in Ramsey and Laxey.’

He explained: ‘Volunteers operate as part of a rota system. They are dispatched at the same time as an ambulance, via the Emergency Services’ Joint Control Room, to attend calls where lives are at risk. These include cardiac arrest, a diabetic emergency, an unconscious patient, a patient with breathing difficulties and a patient who has had a seizure.

‘CFRs are trained to not only assess the immediate situation but also to ascertain a patient’s medical history. They can sometimes simply be a very vital extra pair of hands to an ambulance crew when they arrive.’

Anyone interested in training as a CFR should contact Gerry, on 371296 or gj88@hotmail.com or Ambulance Clinical Manager Steve Crowe on via steve.crowe@gov.im, or attend one of the information sessions.

St John Ambulance is also running a free training course in Ramsey for potential new members. It starts on Monday September 9 and runs for 12 weeks, introducing people to the work of the charity and teaching them first aid.

On completing the course, members will be ready to assist at events and help treat casualties, although they may prefer to volunteer in other aspects of the charity’s work.

Sessions will take place at St Olave’s Church hall and begin with coffee at 7.15pm, with training from 7.30pm for an hour and a half.

For more information on this course, email billbetts@manx.net, ring St John Ambulance headquarters on 674387 or attend an information evening at St Olave’s Church hall from 7pm on Monday September 2.

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