Versatility of the First Responders

Flash and Longnor First Responders, Jackie Ellis with the radio that summons the volunteers to an incident
Flash and Longnor First Responders, Jackie Ellis with the radio that summons the volunteers to an incident

A GROUP set up to help provide emergency medical support in some of the Peak’s most remote villages has celebrated its 11th anniversary.

Flash and Longnor Community First Responders is a team made up of local volunteers who provide support to the ambulance service and respond to medical emergencies in villages including Flash, Longnor, Warslow, Hollinsclough, Sheen, Quarnford and Blackshaw.

The team receive their call-outs from the ambulance service via a radio system. Whoever is on duty at that given time will respond to the call in order to provide medical assistance in the fastest time possible.

Once they arrive at the scene, the team will assess the patient, report back to the ambulance service, administer any immediate life save techniques they may need to provide and then wait for the ambulance to arrive.

Since being formed 11 years ago, the team have attended over 1500 calls.

In such a remote area the first responders are a vital service because ambulances can sometimes take a considerable amount of time to arrive. But the rurality of the team’s patch also means that in some situations, such as bad weather conditions, they need to call on extra support from the air ambulance, or mountain rescue teams for example.

The group have recently welcomed three new recruits and have seven new applicants waiting to be accepted for training. But new members are always welcomed and no medical knowledge or experience is needed to join the first responders as all training is provided. Members can even go on to try and secure one of very few places on a course to qualify as an enhanced first responder, which means they can administer drugs and carry out some procedures.

Team member Jackie Ellis explained: “You have to have an interview and have to be CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checked. You then have to be accepted as being suitable for training and you have to make sure you can give the time to it.”

Being a first responder is a hugely varied job and over the years, the team have attended a range of call-outs. “We’ve been to a huge variety of things over the years from road traffic accidents to broken limbs on top of the Roaches and even people stuck in the Manifold Valley,” Jackie added.

Jackie had held first aid certificates for several years, mostly because of her involvement with horses, but she wanted to build on that knowledge and so joined the group. “I also wanted to put something back into the community which is why most people do it,” she added.

Marie Frodsham is one of the longest serving members of the Flash and Longnor Community First Responders team, having joined 11 years ago.

And for her, it was a decision that changed her life as she is now about to qualify as a paramedic.

So what advice would she give to anyone interested in becoming a first responder? “I’d say do it but you’ve got to do it for the right reasons,” she said. “It’s got to be because you actually want to help folk.

“We help people in need and you meet some really lovely people.

“Up here, people don’t call you because they want a light bulb changing, they ring because they are in absolute dire need.”

The team currently provide cover for about 50 per cent of the time but they are looking to increase that by adding even more new members.

Members of the team have to provide their own uniform. The group currently have a 4x4 vehicle but they are looking to replace it in the near future and are looking for help with their fundraising.

“All of our money comes from donations,” Jackie said.

“We have collection tins in the villages, we’ve had things like pub quizzes and we’ve had a function with the Houghton Weavers. The local community have been really fantastic and supported us with donations.”

And Marie added: “Even people putting a bit of loose change in a collection tin helps. We’d like to thank people for their generosity so far.”

To help support the Flash and Longnor Community First Responders, or find out more about them, visit their website at www.falfr.org.uk.