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What's it like to be a... community first responder?

It's National Volunteers' Week! Read John Jeal's Q&A on why he became a community first responder

John, Community First ResponderWhy did you become a community first responder?

I have been a community first responder (CFR) in Harrow since 2009. Having just entered my fifties, I realised that I needed a new challenge in my life – this seemed just the sort of challenge I wanted.

What do you do as a community first responder?

A community first responder is someone who has been trained in first aid and who is local to the patient. We can provide emergency treatment or simply reassure the patient until the emergency services arrive.

What do enjoy about being a community first responder?

As one of the folk who help run the community first responder group in Harrow, one of my biggest pleasures is helping the newly trained community first responders reach their full potential. We take a great deal of pride in the group and it is always very gratifying to hear a Paramedic say they saw one of our guys on a job and that we were really helpful. St John Ambulance has also given me the training in the Award in Education and Training so I can now help with the community first responder course.

What would you say to people who are considering becoming a community first responder?

A very wise Paramedic told me when I first started: ‘70%-80% of the benefit we provide to our patients is given by talking to them’. So, if you can talk to people you can learn to be a community first responder. The training and support we get ensures we are prepared for most problems we see.

As a community first responder, can you really be the difference?

Yes. There’s the patient that is breathing on their own on arrival at hospital having been in cardiac arrest 30 minutes before; the unresponsive hypoglycaemic patient you were able to put in the recovery position until the ambulance crew arrived. No one should suffer for the lack of trained first aiders. My question to you is: ‘Could you be the difference between a life lost and a life saved?’

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