Community First Responders Scheme launches in mid Down & Lisburn District

A local charity, which launched in May 2022, has officially rolled out their first wave of Community First Responders to help individuals survive major life risks including cardiac arrests.

Mid Down and Lisburn District Community First Responders, with the support of the NI Ambulance Service, has developed the first wave of volunteers. This week, 22 fully trained volunteers and equipped with state of the art defibrillator kits, are now on call to respond to 999 emergency calls and help to support the NI Ambulance Service.

In the UK, over 30,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest ‘Out-of-Hospital’ each year. In Northern Ireland, this number is approximately 1,500 cases per year and the current survival rate of less than 1 in 10; a point emphasised by Lynda Donaldson, Chairperson of the charity and someone who can talk with experience after surviving a cardiac arrest.

“I was one of the lucky ones,” she said. “While walking along Saintfield, I just dropped to the ground. I survived simply because two strangers were nearby; a local school nurse who was CPR trained and a man who by chance had a defibrillator kit in his car.

Mid Down and Lisburn Community First Responders with Lisburn and Castlereagh Mayor Councillor Scott Carson

"They saved my life, but very sadly, many other people are not as fortunate. However, our local Community First Responder team will attempt to do something about this and help more people, like me and also Clare Doyle, another local cardiac survivor and member of our committee.”

With pressures continuing to apply on hospital services and ambulance response times, the registered charity cannot slow down and has ambition to create another wave of volunteers to support the areas of Lisburn, Dunmurry, parts of West Belfast, Carryduff, Temple, Moira, Soilderstown, Maze and Royal Royal Hillsborough. As this is both a populated area but with a broad rural community, further volunteers will be required to support the anticipated demand.

Graham Walsh, the charity’s coordinator explained: “Our trained volunteers are on-call to respond to emergency calls directed by the NI Ambulance Service. Our team will aim to arrive on site promptly, use their training and range of equipment to support the patient until emergency services arrive.

"Our volunteers live and work in the area and come from all walks of life; with people from Fire and Rescue Service, medical, airport and members of the public; all willing to give up their time and help people in our community. We are so grateful for their time and commitment; but due to demand, we will need more people to support us. So, if you want to join the next wave in 2023, please reach us via Messenger or our website”.

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The charity works closely alongside the NI Ambulance Service and appreciates the continued support. Each volunteer has been trained by NIAS and will be equipped with live-saving kit such as a defibrillator, temperature probe, blood pressure monitor, pulse oximeter and more.

"A lot of fundraising by the Committee has brought in funding from local businesses and members of the public along with an exceptional contribution from Stroll Insurance, who provided a £21,000 donation which helped to cover the cost of the defib kits and uniforms.

To help raise awareness about the charity, help with fundraising and volunteer, you can find more information on www.facebook.com/middownandlisburndistrictcfr and http://www.middownandlisburncfr.org or email [email protected]