In many areas across the North West, the ambulance service uses local volunteers, known as CFRs, to get to patients quickly and provide life-saving help prior to the arrival of an ambulance. CFRs are dispatched to specific emergency calls by the ambulance service’s emergency control centre. As they are based within their local community, they are often able to get to the scene of an emergency first and provide critical care before the ambulance crew arrives.
The Lancaster Medics CFR team is now live and volunteering within Lancaster University and its surrounding areas. Its members are all students in years three to five, studying medicine and surgery at Lancaster Medical School. They are from various parts of the country and abroad; local students from Blackburn to international students from Cyprus – some of whom have already helped people in the community in their new volunteer roles.
The team has been established thanks to the desire, will, and experience of Team Leader Monty Barker-Pilsworth and Deputy Joe Nicholson who have worked with their peers for over a year to turn a vision into a reality.
Monty wanted to create a group in which medical students could give back to the local community by using their skills and enthusiasm for providing healthcare whilst studying at Lancaster. Having seen other medical student schemes flourish and grow and having been a part of a first responder team previously, it was something Monty knew he could strive to emulate.
Monty said: “I have witnessed first-hand how crucial CFRs are and the positive impact we could bring in this role to the communities in Lancaster University. As CFRs for NWAS, we are incredibly excited to provide a service to our local community. Any opportunity to work alongside the ambulance service and other local CFR teams to save and improve lives is a tremendous privilege.
“We all feel a great sense of pride to be able to take on the role of a CFR. There was no shortage of fellow medical students who were enthusiastic to be involved with the scheme. This scheme gives us the opportunity to utilise attributes such as strong communication, diligence, and decisiveness to improve patient care.
The team is hoping to expand and begin its second wave of recruitment soon and invite medical students from years two to five on the same course.
Community Resuscitation Manager Mark Evans said: “None of us know who will suffer a cardiac arrest, have difficulty with breathing or sustain heavy bleeding. What we do know is that when such a life-threatening condition occurs it is the simple things that save lives including the type of assistance available and the speed of response.
“We are so pleased for the communities of Lancaster University that a new team of responders has been set up. They were given free training in emergency life support which covers how to deal with patients suffering from life-threatening conditions such as cardiac arrest, chest pains, difficulty breathing, allergic reactions, diabetic and epileptic collapse and choking.
“These students are the NHS staff of the future and whilst studying is their main priority, they will collectively use some of their spare time to respond to emergency calls.”
NWAS has one of the largest and longest-established CFR schemes in the country. There are over 700 active CFRs shared between approximately 125 teams throughout the region.