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September meeting: Community First Responder swings into action

September 30, 2019


We welcomed back Torquil MacInnes to September's group meeting, without his baldrick and bells this time! His new 'hat' on this occasion was to tell us about his role as an elected public governor for the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. That's quite a mouthful, so let's call it SWASFT from now on!

In terms of area, SWASFT's services cover one a fifth of England over 5 counties, from the Isles of Scilly, through Cornwall and Devon across as far as Dorset, up to Gloucestershire and over to Wiltshire. The area covered is around 10,000 square miles with a resident population of over 5.5 million and seasonal visitors of up to 23 million each year. The area is a mix of rural areas - some quite remote - with narrow lanes, and urban areas including towns and cities such as Bristol and Swindon. This leads to quite different challenges by area and season, especially to meet the average 7-minute response time target set for the 999 service.

The trust employs over 4,000 staff to meet this challenging target. It has 369 ambulances in 95 ambulance stations; provides highly skilled clinical teams for the six air ambulance bases within the area (although the helicopters are supplied and run by individual air ambulance charities); plus lesser known resources such as Hazardous Area Response Teams, four bicycles for Weymouth and one boat for the Scillies. The annual mileage of the ambulance fleet s is 23 million miles and we were surprised to hear the cost of each ambulance is approximately £670,000.

Torquil had a surprise up his sleeve, in the shape of Community First Responder (CFR) Chris, who covers Chippenham and the surrounding villages. CFRs are volunteers who are given full training to enable them to provide life-saving care in emergency situations until a paramedic arrives.

CFRs should only be requested to attend life threatening or emergency situations and should not be sent to road traffic collisions; excess drugs or alcohol incidents; or violent incidents, although Chris admitted to being asked to respond to these sometimes. As a volunteer - who doesn't receive any expenses for his role - he has the right to refuse to attend a call, and has done so e.g. when at work.

Chris treated us to a demonstration of one of his more whizzy items of kit, the Raizer chair. As you can see from the photos, Jo kindly volunteered to be raised from a lying to standing position. Currently the charitable arm of the Trust are fundraising the £3,200 needed to add a second chair to the one currently serving the Chippenham area. We were pleased to add £57.05 to the cause, raised from our coffee and raffle monies, in addition to Torquil's speaker fee for the evening.

Elsewhere this month the walking netball team took part in their first tournament, the National Vintage Games in Bath; the Book Club enjoyed Michelle Obama's Becoming; the Crafty Crew made some macrame hanging planters; the Creative Writers revealed their plans for a murder mystery evening to the AMDram group; arias and duets were enjoyed at an evening of music at The Cause; and the Our Town Group found out lots more about Chippenham's history at two lots of Heritage Open Days.

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