A life saving scheme which trains volunteers to treat patients in their local community who have suffered a heart attack has been set up in Newhaven.
The Newhaven Ambulance Community First Responders (CFRs) are fully trained volunteers who are often on the scene before paramedics.
The group is appealing for more volunteers and donations so it can buy defibrillators - equipment which delivers an electric shock to make the heart start beating again.
Backing the group, Newhaven mayor Graham Amy said: “Time and the right equipment can be the crucial factors as to whether a person lives or dies during an emergency such as a cardiac arrest or stroke.
“Now thanks to this initiative, residents in the Newhaven area will have a higher availability of immediate emergency care.
“CFRs are assigned to appropriate emergencies at the same time as ambulance clinicians but because they are based within the local area in which they live or work, they can attend the scene of an emergency in a very short period of time, often arriving within a few minutes of the call.”
Newhaven residents Christoph Vonkurthy, Nigel Ring, Will Morris and Mary Crabtree have all undergone seven months of training and meetings with South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb).
Although Peacehaven and Seaford have a community first responder scheme, Newhaven has never had the much-needed service.
The group is hoping the public and businesses will help fund the vital life-saving equipment, which includes defibrillators, which CFRs carry.
First responders receive mileage payments for using their cars and initially, two lifesaving kits including defibrillators.
Afterwards they need to raise funds to equip new responders, as kits costs nearly £2,000.
Responders are trained to attend emergency calls received by the ambulance service and provide care until the ambulance arrives. The schemes operate as a partnership between St John Ambulance and ambulance service trusts.
Newhaven responder Nigel King said: “We have sufficient equipment for emergencies but hope to raise more money so that each one of us is fully equipped.
“For example satellite navigation will help responders decrease the time taken to attend a medical emergency, ultimately saving lives.
“We need to expand the group and if we can get enough money or sponsorship we hope eventually this will enable us to provide the most up to date equipment, expand the scheme therefore increasing availability of the voluntary service.”
Cllr Amy is writing to businesses, shops and individuals in the area to help raise funds.The group will also raise money at events, such as the Lifeboat Fete.
Cllr Amy added: “This is not a wealthy area but Newhaven people always respond to worthy causes and I am sure they will give generously to assist this vital service. Christoph, Nigel, Will and Mary are to be congratulated for giving their time and money to provide a service we may all require at some time in our lives.”
Contact Graham Amy on 01273 514942 or Nigel King on 07973 754320.