Rotary response to First Responders
Gipping Valley Rotarians have played midwife to the birth of a new Community First Responders group covering Mendlesham, Bacton and Wickham Skeith.
First Responder schemes are set up and supported by the East of England Ambulance NHS Trust but are organised locally. They provide trained personnel and emergency equipment to supplement the work of the ambulance service.
First Responder schemes are particularly valuable in rural areas which are relatively remote from ambulance stations. In many cases a locally based First Responder can be on the scene of an emergency within a few minutes of a 999 call and can provide potentially life-saving treatment before full-time medical assistance arrives.
The genesis of the new group was a talk given to Rotarians in 2008 by Steve Mayhew, organiser of the Stowmarket group, during which it was mentioned that there were other areas of the county not covered in the same way. Rotarian Guy Wiltshear, who lives in Mendlesham, decided to take the initiative in setting up a group to cover his local area.
The club agreed to underwrite the costs of setting up the new group, provided there was sufficient support from the local parishes. Although the Ambulance Service Trust backs the scheme by providing training, communications and all consumables, the finance for the capital cost of the specialised equipment has to be raised from local sources.
The new group was first publicised at the Mendlesham Street Fair in May 2009. The Rotary Club provided a stand, and other local First Responder groups helped to give a demonstration of activities, equipment, etc. A considerable amount of money was collected on the day, both via direct donations and through the raffle of a signed Ipswich Town FC ball.
This was followed up by a public meeting in Mendlesham later in May, attended by interested parties and would-be volunteers.
Further funding has come from the parish councils of all three parishes covered by the new scheme, and the Rotary Club is organising a fund-raising ‘Camel Racing’ fun event in Mendlesham Village Hall on 25th September 2009.
Sufficient volunteer First Responders have now been found. Following completion of their training it is hoped that the new group will be operational in the near future.