Why do we need Community First Responders?
We know that in many medical emergencies and after accidents, people can die within the first few minutes. We also know that if certain simple but critical interventions can be performed within those first few minutes that life can be saved and disability reduced. This is especially the case for heart attacks, choking and injuries that have caused someone to lose consciousness.
Even the best ambulance service in the world cannot get to every 999 call within the first few minutes. In fact the Scottish Ambulance Service gets to most calls very quickly. But occasionally it may not be quick enough – especially in countryside areas or large commercial complexes. There is a period of time between the 999 call being made and the ambulance arriving which little or no emergency care takes place. This time period has been called the ‘therapeutic vacuum’. We know that community based first responders can fill this vacuum and provide essential simple treatment in those crucial first few minutes.
In recent years, advances in technology have been made, and many interventions which were previously performed only by highly trained individuals are now available to people with much less training. These include small, easy to operate ‘external defibrillators’ (AEDs) and lightweight oxygen delivery systems.
The Scottish Ambulance Service believes that with the right training, equipment and support, Community First Responders in Scotland can work alongside the Service and provide the best pre-hospital care that is possible. There are already some schemes working successfully in different parts of the country.