Kirkby Lonsdale First Responders
Community First Responders are dedicated volunteers drawn from the local community and trained by the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) to attend emergency calls in those cases where a speedy response and early intervention could make a life-or-death difference to a patient.
Because of our rural location, Responders can often reach the patient in advance of the ambulance, usually arriving on scene within minutes, equipped to deliver Basic Life Support and – in extreme cases – cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), in conjunction with the use of a defibrillator. We also offer much-needed care and support for patients and their relatives until the ambulance arrives.
When someone dials 999 with a heart attack, cardiac arrest, breathing/lung problems, stroke and other non trauma related incidents, the ambulance service dispatcher will alert First Responders in the area. They are dispatched at the same time as the ambulance crews but usually arrive before the ambulance. In busy times the ambulance can take over an hour to reach the casualty. In cases of cardiac arrest it has been identified that the chance of a positive outcome reduces by approximately 10% for every minute that effective CPR and defibrillation are delayed.
Kirkby Lonsdale First Responders Group is one of the oldest in Cumbria. It was started in 2001 since then many locals have been trained in how to give CPR and many went on to be CFRs, many have since retired.
When the group started, with one defibrillator, the kit was held in an accessible location at the centre of Kirkby Lonsdale from where it was collected on the way to the incident. Over the years, further kits have been purchased and stationed at suitable locations around the area, enabling us to cover the further flung villages more quickly. Our large area covers the villages of Barbon, Casterton, Whittington, Newton, Mansergh, Cowan Bridge and Hutton Roof as well as Kirkby Lonsdale itself. This is a large geographical area with a population of over 4000 of which nearly 25% are over 60.
In the past the group has been large, with over 40 responders spread over the area and divided into teams, so each person covered a shift of 72 hours per month on average. As time has gone on, many of the original members have retired, and it has been difficult to recruit more. There are now 7 of us to cover the same area and 24x7. We now each carry a kit at all times and respond to call outs whenever we can. We have also maintained the central kit in Kirkby Lonsdale, and one in Barbon, to be available for the community. There is an average of 3 call outs per week, at any time of the day or night.
How would this funding have an impact on your community?
The Ambulance Service keeps us supplied with consumables, but the defibrillators, kits bags, equipment and hi vis clothing are purchased with funds raised by fund raising events, legacies, gifts and collections in local shops. A defibrillator costs £800-£1200 and the rest of the kit can amount to £500 per responder! Defibrillators must be replaced at least every 10 years and we have recently replaced 2 of the oldest defibrillators using funds raised in the community.
We have a new responder about to “go live” and another about to start training, so if we were successful with this grant we would use towards a new kit and defibrillator to maximise availability of responders, rather than sharing a kit.
We have around 150 call outs per year.
"Team Leader David Read said “Please help our small, dedicated team to provide the fastest possible response to emergencies over a very large area.”"