A first responders service is asking for donations and places to set up fundraising opportunities so it can help raise vital funds to keep it operational. Fulford and District Community First Responders have asked community members to notify them of any events and locations where it can raise cash for the maintenance of equipment, transport and uniform.
A first responders service is asking for donations and places to set up fundraising opportunities so it can help raise vital funds to keep it operational.
Fulford and District Community First Responders have asked community members to notify them of any events and locations where it can raise cash for the maintenance of equipment, transport and uniform.
The service uses an ambulance car that is ten-years-old and costs between £300 and £350 a month to keep on the road.
Community First Responders – not to be confused with paramedics – are volunteers who respond to 999 calls in more rural areas and often arrive at the scene before the emergency ambulance paramedics.
The equipment used to help patients is worth thousands of pounds and needs replacing should it become broken and obsolete. The money for these is raised by the volunteers themselves.
Currently, there are six members on the team with a further potential three being trained up to join them in the coming months.
One of the existing members, Belinda Oakes, told the Times & Echo what the funds that are raised are used for.
“We are a registered charity and have to raise funds to buy the responder car and keep it on road,” she said.
“It pays for uniforms too – we can’t wear same as paramedics, we wear blue.
“We have an A-Level in ‘Ambulance Service Community First Responders’ but are not degree-qualified like paramedics.
“We’re given training by West Midlands Ambulance Service and they supply us with the same radios that the paramedics and emergency ambulances have.
“We offer free CPR and defibrillator training to the community either by going into local schools or using local village halls and doing after-school sessions for an hour or so.”
On top of this, the service members require regular training to keep their skills up to date and align themselves with the latest regulations and governance.
Cheadle-based Belinda is one of countless examples of the selfless individuals across the district, county and country who spend their spare time being a community first responder.
She has been with the service since March 2015, having to take a break between 2019 and 2020 to undergo treatment for breast cancer, which has now thankfully been in remission for two years.
Once chemotherapy and radiotherapy was complete, and after shielding amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Belinda got straight back into responding.
“She explained the touching reasons why she decided to enrol in the service six-and-a-half years ago.
“I wanted to give something back” she said.
“My brother, Andrew Dancaster, was killed in Iraq on November 1, 2007.
“I realised life is much too short. I worked part-time at home so after my youngest child started school, I thought I needed to do something a bit more rewarding and get out the house a bit more.
“I’m quite a social person and thought it might be a road to go down.
“I saw an advert one day and thought ‘I’ll give that a go’ and I have never looked back.”
Fulford Community First Responders were hit hard by the impact of Covid-19 with fundraising efforts almost ceasing throughout lockdown.
Like all health services, it had to adapt in order to continue helping people in a safe manner.
Belinda continued: “It’s not been as hard as frontline paramedics obviously, but it’s been strange in that we have had to rethink how we do certain things and having to wear personal protective equipment such as a masks, aprons gloves and visors.
“I wouldn’t go as far to say it’s difficult but it’s not something we’re used to.
“We help patients not just in a medical way, but also offer them support at the scene, say if someone has passed away from a cardiac arrest for example.
“We also assist in things that don’t always require medical skills such as sitting down with them, talking to them or making them a cup of tea.
“When doing that, wearing a mask and visor and wearing gloves is not as easy, especially when they are elderly or hard of hearing and can’t see very well.”
Fulford and District Community First Responders has had funding from Fulford, Forsbrook and Draycott parish councils.
It also has several collection boxes located in numerous pubs and premises, albeit is looking for further venues, fates and fayres to place more.
It has received donations from trusts and groups too, such as the Andy Taft Trust, and most recently funds from churches in Hollington and Croxden, Uttoxeter.
Belinda says the service is “very thankful” for all of these contributions.
She highlighted one area that would prove of great monetary relief for the service: “It would be great if we could have sponsorship for the car, just a small amount off a company or companies locally.
“It would put a little bit of money into the pot each month which would help cover fuel costs and things like that.”
To learn more and contact the service, search ‘Fulford And District Community First Responders’ on Facebook, where a donation button can be found on a recent post.
To find out further information and for an alternative way to donate to the charity, go to www.fulfordanddistrictcfr.co.uk.
The service said it is happy to collect cheques and donations from a premises that is giving a donation too.
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