On Scene with the Braintree Community First Responders

Fresh off of their recent recognition at the Braintree District Volunteer awards, picking up Community Group of Year, we caught up with Braintree Community First Responders to find out a little more about the important work they do.


For those who haven’t heard of Community First Responders (CFRs) before, they are groups of volunteers who are recruited, trained and dispatched by the East of England Ambulance NHS Trust (EEAST) to the most serious medical emergencies, where their attendance in the vital minutes before an ambulance arrives can make the difference between life and death.


We sat down with Stuart Hammond, Co-ordinator for Braintree CFRs, to delve into the incredible work they do in the local area, opportunities for local residents to become CFRs and how you can support them through fundraising.


At the start of 2021, the group comprised of just one responder and that was Stuart, with the group now growing to seven volunteers, with a couple more recruits in training, Braintree CFRs have attended, and in the majority of cases been first on scene, to 143 incidents including 14 cardiac arrests in the past six months, which takes over 1000 hours of volunteering in the same period.


How does your work as a Community First Responder work around your day-to-day job?

“It’s a totally personal thing of how many hours you want to do, the Trust and our group like to see a minimum of 12 hours a month, but each individual has their own view on how many hours and shifts they want to do. Typically, I will do one or two evenings during the week, and weekends.

“As you get into the flu season, with a lot of respiratory illnesses etc, that’s where we play a really important part. I had a cardiac arrest recently and I was there on scene in minutes with a defibrillator and oxygen and that can be the difference between life and death, particularly if there isn’t an ambulance available close by.

“I haven’t got a medical background; you don’t have to have one to join. It’s not necessarily about having that medical skill, it’s about someone being confident and a confident communicator, being able to reassure someone, being empathetic in a patient’s hour of need.”


CFR’s work within a scope of practice and if required receive additional support from the Clinical Advice Line which is where paramedics, doctors and nurse practitioners are available should they need additional advice or treatment plan for a patient.


In the last few weeks, Braintree CFRs has set up a JustGiving page to help fund another kit, with the first being supplied by the Trust but any additional equipment needs funding by the group. In cardiac arrest, every second counts, so for the group to have a second kit could potentially save further lives, allowing the group to have two responders on call giving the group better coverage.


Braintree Community First Responders are all volunteers and welcome support from the public, either through donations or joining the group themselves. The group are looking for people to cover weekday routes during the day so if you would like to apply to become a CFR, you can apply on the East of England Ambulance NHS Trust website.


To donate, make your way over to their JustGiving page.

by Callum Knowles

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