Ludlow community first responders launch campaign to replace 17-year-old vehicle

Community first responders in Ludlow have launched a £10,000 fundraising campaign to replace their 17 year-old vehicle.

Louis Blenkiron with the first responder vehicle in need of replacement
Louis Blenkiron with the first responder vehicle in need of replacement

First responders are volunteers in their local areas who are trained to have life-saving skills to support patients until an ambulance arrives.

There are hundreds of community first responders in the West Mercia region but Ludlow is in the process of building up the numbers from the current two.

As well as training, responders are asked to raise funds to pay for uniforms, equipment and vehicles.

Louis Blenkiron, 37, recently stepped up to for the challenge. But he's keen to get a better vehicle and reduce the risk of it conking out on journeys in the more remote parts of south Shropshire.

"The Honda CRV we have is a bit squeaky and ricketty," said Louis.

"The last thing we want is it conking out in the pitch black somewhere in the middle of south Shropshire!

"We have got all the equipment that we need to treat people but we need a new vehicle. It can be a bit embarrassing taking it to shows to publicise the scheme."

The vehicle originally came from the responder group in Bridgnorth.

Louis, who is a married father, volunteers to do his "Batman thing" after his work as an analyst in the car industry. He works at home and has responded a number of times after successfully completing the arduous training schedule.

"The new vehicle doesn't have to be an SUV but because of our location it does have to have four wheel drive capability," said Louis. "Maybe it could be an estate car to keep equipment in the boot. But we don't carry patients, so we do not need that room."

On his JustGiving fundraising page, Louis says: "With emergency calls for assistance and the need for first responders increasing in the local area, I am looking to raise money to upgrade the Ludlow Community First Responders vehicle.

"Currently, the 17-year-old car we have is OK, but it has seen better days and is in need of updating.

"The trouble is, vehicles are not cheap and hence I am starting this campaign.

"If a vehicle were to be acquired in the meantime, any money raised here would go towards the new vehicles liveries and any other supplies, but essentially this is me trying to make it easy for people to donate to the scheme. All donations of any amount are greatly appreciated."

As of Monday the campaign had raised £1,210 and can be found at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ludlow-community-first-responders

Louis said there has recently been an influx of people keen to be community first responders but many people drop out when they realise the commitment it takes in time and training. Once trained, volunteers commit to a minimum of four hours a week, which Louis fits into evenings.

"I can sneak out at night and do my Batman thing," said Louis.

He lives in Ludlow and is married to Stacey, 32, and the couple have a five-year-old son.

West Midlands Ambulance Service says community first responders will need to successfully complete training prior to becoming active.

Active CFRs are expected to be available to respond to emergency 999 calls for a minimum of 20 hours per month but that can be done after work, at the weekend, and evenings. CFRS also have to attend mandatory training annually and to keep a personal portfolio to include responding hours and skills used.

West Midlands Ambulance Service is looking for physically fit people aged 18 plus, who have a current driving licence. They must have excellent communication skills, a caring nature and be willing to help raise the profile of the schemes in local areas

The service says responders are not a substitute for ambulance staff, however they provide life-saving skills to patients in their local community until an emergency ambulance vehicle arrives.

As well as responding to emergency 999 calls, community first responders promote health and wellbeing in their local community by raising the awareness of the importance of bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of a defibrillator.

Volunteers are normally affiliated to a local charitable scheme within their community. All community first responders schemes are designed to be financially self-supporting.

Although the ambulance service will provide all necessary support, training and consumables, responders must raise funds for their uniform, equipment and vehicles.

Community first responder schemes are usually involved in a variety of fundraising events to support their voluntary role in their local community.

To offer help for the fundraising email Louis at lblenkiron@hotmail.com

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