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
Why 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
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
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
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
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