Effie Cadwallader used to respond for the West Midlands ambulance scheme but is now responding for the Welsh Ambulance Service, still covering much of the same area, including her home village, St Martins, but now able to cross the border to areas such as Chirk and the Ceiriog Valley, Overton and Penley.
“First responders receive no funding from any official source,” she said.
“As volunteers, we must raise sufficient money to pay for all our uniform and equipment. Previously, when I volunteered with a neighbouring ambulance service, I managed to raise enough to finance a car, and with the help of local businesses and private donations, the running costs were covered.
“Now that I am with Wales, I miss the former car I was using and I’m hoping the communities I serve will give me their support.”
Effie has set a target of £10,000 with the help of the online GoFundMe page - gofundme.com/f/effies-community-first-responder-car - and the group is also looking into sources of match-funding.
In addition to the purchase price, an extra £1,000 must be found to cover the cost of livery and insurance, plus another £1,000 a year for running costs, including the road fund licence, servicing and MOT. People can also donate via firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I started responding for Welsh Ambulance Service Trust fairly recently and have found WAST to be both appreciative and supportive of its CFRs. Resigning from WMAS means that I can devote more time to WAST.”
Over the years, Effie has attended more than 3,000 emergency call-outs, and been highly praised for her dedicated service to the local communities around the border area.
“Having a dedicated car with high-viz markings is an absolute boon. Without blue lights, the striking livery can help with ease of passage, and eccentric parking at an emergency is forgiven. It keeps the Community First Responder much safer, and seeing the car`s arrival is a huge relief to the patient.
“The car would not belong to me but to the Wrexham Rural CFR group, which is strong, growing, well organised and well managed.
“It can be loaded up and ready to go, with all the equipment required on a daily basis so no need to transfer equipment from car to car and risk leaving behind something essential.
“A dedicated car would also make it easier to transport the manikins and training defibrillators used by CFRs when delivering defibrillator awareness courses.”
Unpaid volunteers like Effie receive ongoing training from the ambulance service plus consumables such as oxygen, trauma bandages and medical essentials, but they must raise the money themselves to fund all other equipment such as kit bags, defibrillators and uniforms.
Along with other CFRs, Effie has been responding throughout the Covid crisis both to emergencies and as a member of the ‘Falls Van’ team, which has attended more than 300 unhurt fallers across North Wales.