Community First Responders 'gutted' at not being able to serve

A Shropshire village is currently without community first responders due to "red tape" - but there is the potential to double its original complement to four in the near future.

Community first responders are a vital lifeline in medical emergencies when seconds count
Community first responders are a vital lifeline in medical emergencies when seconds count

Dave Fulton and Nigel Preece have served in Highley as Community First Responders for the last 20 years, however currently they cannot be allowed to serve as they have been unable to complete the most up-to-date training course.

Community First Responders are volunteers who are trained to respond to a variety of medical emergencies. The latest qualification, introduced across the country by all other ambulance services, will be the first time CFRs have a fully regulated qualification.

The West Midlands Ambulance Service agreed to implement new accreditation for all CFRs working across the area last year, and this was due to take effect as of October 1 this year. However, a handful of CFRs have as yet been unable to take the new course, while around 200 others have completed it.

Dave and Nigel had previously asked the WMAS if they could continue until the end of this year with their current qualifications, but were told this was not possible, so as of September 30 Highley has been without them.

Dave said: "We are really gutted that we will not be allowed to continue, I can't see any problem with it but they have just stopped us doing it.

"I think the scheme will continue, but there is a gap now."

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “Community First Responders (CFRs) play an important role in helping to save lives. It’s why the trust has been actively recruiting new CFRs and has recently had applications for two new responders to join the Highley scheme.

"Good governance is a key strand of patient safety, something that everyone within the health service must respect and observe. Ensuring patients and volunteers are protected is one of the reasons why a new nationally regulated qualification has been introduced across the country.

"All CFRs were alerted to the fact that they would have to update their qualifications over a year ago, a move that was fully supported by CFRs across the West Midlands.

"This important step forward means each of the volunteers have the latest information to protect patients and save lives. It builds on their existing knowledge and updates them with current learning.

"The two existing CFRs in Highley were offered the opportunity to join six different courses between February and October but to date have not been available to complete one."

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