Ina Scott (65), who is Coordinator of Melton’s Community First Responders, tells the Melton Times about what her role entails, her limitations and how she feels about being on call over a busy festive period. Also, how you can get involved if her interview has that affect
Q What is your background and what are community first responders?
A I live in Melton and I am the Coordinator of Melton Community First Responders. We have a group of 16 responders in the area. A community first responder (CFR) is a volunteer who after training is dispatched by the ambulance service to patients nearby that we can reach in less time than the ambulance and they are suffering from a condition that is deemed appropriate for a CFR. This includes cardiac problems, diabetes, seizure, asthma and anaphylaxis, where we can make a difference.
We are always backed up by a paramedic in a car or an ambulance, we are there to help not replace the ambulance service. All first responders use their own vehicles.
Q What qualifications do you have and what can or can’t you do on the job?
A We are trained to a standard that East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) requires of a CFR and our skills are reassessed at least once a year. You don’t have to have any previous first aid experience. We mainly use first aid skills but this includes administration of oxygen and the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). We also stay and assist the paramedic crews when they arrive if this is required. We aren’t sent to help children under 12 years or trauma.
Q How did you get involved in becoming a first responder in Melton and how important is it to have enough people on the ground?
A Several of us got involved when the group was first set up in 2004 because we wanted to give something back to the community. We cover Melton North and South, villages around the borough and have first responders in Rothley and Mountsorrel. It is important to have responders spread over the whole area as this allows us to give the best support to the community in the day as well as evenings.
Q Do you get a satisfaction out of helping people you meet and what is a typical day like for you?
A We are very dedicated to what we do and do get satisfaction if we can help the patient and their family. This isn’t always medical help but the reassurance we can give can be very important to them.
Every day is different, some days we attend several patients and others we do not go out at all. Some members of our group do a few hours a week others do many hours and most days. It depends on your availability, your job and your family.
Q What is the worst situation you’ve had to attend and have you had to help someone you know?
A We don’t consider any situation as worst or best and our concern is the patient and the situation they find themselves in. We have attended quite a few cardiac arrests in the 10 years we have been operating and to us these are more straight forward as our training is very thorough. However, they do have an emotional impact on you afterwards even successes and it is far more emotional for other family members that are in attendance.
Some of our responders have had to help someone they know and because we live in the community we often know the patient or a member of their family. We have to be very discrete and medical confidentiality is a thing we all observe.
Q With Christmas approaching will you be on call and is this a busy time of the year?
A There will be 24/7 cover over the holiday and at least two responders will be on call on Christmas Day. It is hard to predict but with the winter months and holiday period approaching it can be quite busy.
Q Are there enough first responders out there? How can people volunteer?
A The villages could do with more cover. They are not as busy but there is still a need for more help. As well as being always on the look-out for new members we would also appreciate help with fundraising as, like the air ambulance, we have to raise money to buy equipment such as the AEDs and pulse oximeters.
l To volunteer, or find out more, contact Ina in writing to 10 Wycliffe Avenue, Melton, or call (01664) 853384.