Tessa's story

By day Tessa is a marketing consultant and by night she helps to save lives. Tessa works in the front line in partnership with NHS Trusts, answering 999 calls in her role as a community first responder.Tessa CFR

Community first responders come from all walks of life and often fit their duties around their full time work. Their presence in the local community means they can get to an emergency quicker and start immediate treatment. Community first responders are dispatched at the same time as an NHS ambulance and attend life threatening emergencies such as cardiac arrest, diabetic emergencies and unresponsive patients.

'I signed on while working from home, then a message came through:

Fall with head injury... possible cardiac arrest

'The minutes immediately following a cardiac arrest are crucial; without CPR the brain will start to die. I arrived within three minutes. Loukia, a family member, was already trying to administer CPR to Donnie the patient. I helped Loukia make the CPR even more effective and then I confirmed Donnie had suffered a cardiac arrest with the ambulance control. I got the defibrillator out of my kit bag and the shock I gave Donnie worked. I continued heart compressions until the ambulance arrived.

'The first NHS back up crew arrived and took over CPR. Soon Donnie’s heart was beating and he was breathing for himself again.

'The next day Donnie was sitting up in a hospital bed chatting. I visited him and it was the best moment of my life when he said "Thanks to you I’ll get to see my grandchildren grow up!"

'But we can’t always be there. Situations where first aid could have given someone a chance to live just isn’t available because we lack the resources. It’s heart-breaking to think of grieving families wondering whether first aid could have made the difference. Families who have to try and come to terms with never seeing their loved one again. I’m sure you’ll agree, nothing is more tragic than a life needlessly lost.

'We always carry an automated external defibrillator (AED) as well as oxygen. We are a vital service to an ambulance crew before and after they arrive.'

Tessa with Donnie and LoukiaLast year alone, Tessa’s team of community first responders attended more than 11,900 calls on behalf of the ambulance service. We know that each year 29,000 people die due to a heart attack, 2,500 people die from a blocked airway and 900 choke to death. First aid could have given these people a chance. There could be a community first responder living right next door to you. Someone who can jump into action immediately in an emergency. You can make a difference, simply by donating today.

Each time a CFR picks up a kit bag, they are holding around £1,500 worth of equipment. Without it, their ability to save a life reduces. We are trying to raise £40,000, which is the equivalent of 26 life saving kits. Please help us by donating today.