Berkshire’s Community Responder Schemes (including Maidenhead) are made up of groups of volunteers (CFRs) who operate within the community in which they live or work and have been trained to attend emergency calls received by South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS), providing vital care and First Aid until an Ambulance arrives. Following is some general information about becoming a Volunteer Community Responder, although exact details may vary across the Country.
A prospective Community Responder can come from all walks of life. No prior First Aid knowledge is required as all training will be given to a level to competently carry out duties. Candidates who hold a recognised First Aid Certificate will be trained in the areas needed to complete their knowledge. There will still be a requirement to demonstrate competence by practical and written assessment. Full background checks including an enhanced DBS check will be made on prospective candidates. A driving licence is not a requirement, but responding will be by car and so he/she must have access to a car/driver whilst on-call. SCAS does not use Community Responders on Bicycles nor Motorbikes.
The training will allow Candidates to learn about, practice with, and demonstrate competence in administering appropriate First Aid and Defibrillation to a casualty. They will be required to demonstrate competence in all core subject areas via multi-choice question papers and test scenarios with oral questioning. There will also be a driving assessment.
In addition, Candidates will be required to spend a shift with an Ambulance crew (bring biscuits).
CFRs are expected to carry out training updates and reassessment at least every six months. Monthly training sessions are organised, not only for core skills, but also additional topics that may be of interest. You don’t have to attend them all as long as you attend enough to requalify.
Once qualified, Candidates will join a team in the area that they will be covering. Each team has its own equipment and it is the Responder’s duty to familiarise him/herself with it. Initially the Responder may ‘buddy up’ with a more experienced Responder whilst he or she builds up experience and confidence. Full support is provided, either through the rest of the team, the team co-ordinator or the appropriate Community Responder Liaison and Training Officer (CRLATO). Post incident support is available should the CFR need it – for instance after a Cardiac Arrest.
Rules of the road
Community Responders will, on the whole, use their own vehicles to respond in. They will need to prove that their insurance Company agrees to this role (a pro-forma letter is available to send) and the vehicle must be appropriately taxed, MOT’d and insured. Responding is done at normal road speed and CFRs have no exemptions. If a Responder is caught speeding or violating a Red Traffic light etc, SCAS will not assist in the CFR’s defence and the CFR may even face an internal enquiry.
After a minimum level of experience is achieved, a CFR may elect to take a driving assessment which, if passed, will allow the CFR to drive one of the marked-up Dynamic Response Vehicles (DRVs). This additional skill needs to be renewed every year