Introducing our new Responder – Nigel Allfrey.
Nigel has very recently become operational and here is his experience to date.
It takes an ambulance 18 minutes to get to Selsey from Chichester – if an ambulance is available and the single road isn’t blocked.
On average, it has taken me 8mins 12secs from receiving an alert to being at the patients address over the past month of calls. On each of the 20 calls I have received in that time, I have been there ahead of the ambulance, sometimes by 20 minutes. We know also that every minute over 4 minutes decreases a patients chances of recovering fully from heart failure by 10%. If the brain can be kept oxygenated, 18 minutes is the accepted time to be able to restart a heart. So we are looking at fine margins.
The geographical challenge of emergency access to the town as well as the reality of a large relatively elderly population is why I applied for the voluntary role of Community First Responder in Selsey. Before moving here I was a Samaritan for 5 years and was looking for something a little different when we came in 2017.
Its a role that requires commitment – a 5-day intensive training course is only one of the many steps that need to be passed to even start out on a ‘mentoring’ time. As well as continuous professional development and team meetings, there is the time ‘logged on’ – at any moment being alerted by a text message to go to the help of a patient with only very limited information as to their state of health. The role is flexible in relation to when you ‘log on’ with a minimum amount of time required (which is not exacting) to deliver. Personally, I have been able to be available for 110 hours in the last month, although some dedicated CFRs do as much in a week.
It is true that all calls are not an imminent danger to life. However, being there with the equipment should things take a turn for the worst reassures patients and their worried families. On many occasions, taking observations enables stressed people to be calm and practical steps can make the wait endurable as well as making the ambulance crew’s jobs much easier when they arrive.
In Selsey we are really lucky in that the community really appreciates the CFR service. People contribute to funds to enable us to have the best equipment as well as installing ‘Public Access Defibrillators’ all around the town (we are a charity and have to self-fund our activities). Also, we train as many people as possible how to use a defibrillator and have confidence to step in when there is a crisis rather than walking away. The number of people who have said ‘Thank goodness a First Responder is here!’ is a wonderful appreciation of the work we do and definitely makes it worthwhile. Attending charity events, it’s also heartening how many people willingly dive into their purses when they see our banners rather than steering around the stall!!
Also, we are actively promoting the ‘GoodSam” app through which people with some first aid training are alerted to an emergency events in their immediate vicinity.
There is a gap, though ……..
We really want to staff a 24/7 service in Selsey, but that will need more volunteers to be trained. So, if you feel you have the energy, time and inclination to join our team and embark on a rewarding new venture with a huge learning curve or for more information about our charity and how you can help to support the Selsey Community First Responders then please contact us. See the ‘Contact us’ page.