Robert Shields, a Bishop’s Waltham Community First Responder, has now completed one thousand call outs to medical emergencies. Having retired from full-time employment 11 years ago, he came across the Community First Responders stand at the annual carnival. “Despite having no medical experience, I just knew this was for me. It would be a total change from anything I’d done before and it would keep me actively engaged with the community.”
The Responders face a wide range of emergencies, such as heart attacks, strokes and breathing difficulties. Sometimes they respond to cardiac arrests or other life-threatening incidents. Robert does not seem to worry about this, “We are well trained by the Ambulance Service to deal with what we see and the adrenalin soon kicks in to carry us through. We are not clinicians so we do not diagnose, but we perform a number of clinical observations on the patient and react accordingly to make them comfortable. We are the first on scene for well over 90% of call-outs but back-up soon arrives in the form of a paramedic or ambulance crew to assist us to further help the patient.”
Surely doing the same job for 11 years would be very boring for an active individual like Robert? “Not a bit of it. Every call-out is different and no two people are the same. In addition, we are being trained to take on more responsibilities which is very fulfilling. We now have use of a pneumatic lifting cushion for people who have fallen and we respond to emergency life-line calls such as welfare cases. We can do all the clinical observations on our own and this can save an ambulance visit or an unneeded hospital stay.”
The Responders aim to provide 24 hours a day, 7 days a week cover and this could seem a daunting commitment for anyone wanting to join the group. Robert disagrees, “We fit in the shifts of duty at times that we choose. You can be working or relaxing at home, you could be asleep, you could even be out shopping, as long as you can get to your your car in a couple of minutes or so and to be on your way.”
Being a Responder is only one of the many activities Robert does for the community, but how does it rate amongst the others? “It’s top of the list! I find it exciting and relatively stress-free. I like meeting so many different people and I enjoy the supportive friendship of the Responder group. The icing on the cake, though, is bringing so much comfort to people in distress. I feel so proud to have served as a Responder for all this time.”
Bishop’s Waltham Community First Responders are considered by the South Central Ambulance Service to be one of the most active and responsive in their area. They were also the winners of the national Heart Safe Award in 2017 for the “Community Responder Scheme of the Year”. Robert, and the other Bishop’s Waltham Community First Responders, can deservedly feel very proud.
If you are interested in finding out more about the First Responder scheme, or are interested in joining the group then please contact group leader Andrew on 01489 893020. Our members are over 18, have a full driving licence and the use of a private motor vehicle. We live in Bishop’s Waltham, Swanmore, Waltham Chase and the surrounding villages. Help make a real difference to your community, get in touch today!