Elaine Kelly is the founder and coordinator of Skreen/Dromard/Beltra Community First Responder Group. 

Due to Covid-19, we had a slow and complicated start. We hosted meetings over zoom earlier this year, we undertook initial training in May of this year and launched as a National Ambulance Service affiliated CFR Group in September. 

We are a group of trained volunteers who respond to certain medical emergencies within our area while a National Ambulance Service Resource is mobile to the scene. We were lucky to be awarded €2,800 from Sligo PPN Community Enhancement Grant this year. We have also been fundraising and have gathered €10,000 in total. We have used this money to purchase 4 public access defibrillators and unlocked, outdoor heated cabinets. We have supplied all 12 of our responders with hi vis jackets, ppe kits and responder bags containing essential equipment. We are currently trying to raise more money so that we can purchase training equipment such as mankins, training defibrillators, a screen, projector etc.

When someone calls 999/112 and informs the call taker that a patient is choking / unconscious / not breathing effectively or not breathing at all, a text message is automatically sent to all responders within the area, at the same time as a National Ambulance Service resource is being dispatched. Prior to Covid-19, CFR’s were also alerted to stroke and chest pain calls, it is envisaged that will be happen again once restrictions are eased. Once the responders receive the text message alerting them to the call, they sit into their car, collect the nearest defibrillator and make their way to the emergency. The CFR’s communicate with each other to arrange how many will attend, who will collect the defibrillator, who will meet the ambulance etc.

The CFR’s provide life saving care such as CPR to the patient while a National Ambulance Service resource makes it way to the scene. CFR’s are not intended to replace an ambulance crew at all, we enhance the patients care and outcome until more help arrives. All of our volunteers are trained to a high standard. Since launching as a lice CFR Group, we have to train for at least 1 hour each month to keep all of our skills up to date. We train in CPR, choking, strokes, chest pain, how to deal with a patient, how to speak to a patients family, paperwork, radio communications, handing over to an ambulance crew, donning and doffing ppe on a regular basis. Our responders have to complete online training and exams as as well as practical assessments. 

If restrictions allow, we plan to start training other members within our community in CPR and how to use a defibrillator in the new year. We would love to take part in this project and put together a video highlighting our work. We want to promote the group and advertise what we do. We have been allowed to train indoors as this is essential training but we are trying to move our training outdoors as unfortunately quite a lot of cardiac arrests occur outdoors or in farmyards. We want to train our responders to deal with all situations. 

 

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