COMMUNITY volunteers in Limerick are providing lifesaving support to ambulance crews as they respond to emergency call-outs.
The Community First Responders (CFR) programme is a nationwide project with bases on the Ennis Road in Limerick City, Pallaskenry, Limerick West, and Adare, with more in the pipeline.
CFR volunteers are trained in providing emergency care to people who may be choking, suffering cardiac arrest, or having a stroke and provide an immediate response in cases where even a few minutes could be the difference between life and death.
The programme is run in conjunction with the National Ambulance Service (NAS) and training is delivered by experienced NAS paramedics.
Jonathan Lynch, community engagement officer for the south region of the NAS, said that the programme provides a vital service in the first five minutes of a life-threatening call before ambulance crews arrive on the scene.
“The National Ambulance Service is the statutory provider for all 999 calls. We very much support first responder programmes around the country.
“We aim to have ambulances at these life-threatening calls fairly rapidly, but even five or six minutes might not be quick enough, as opposed to somebody in a local area who can provide this support.
Volunteers are certified to Irish Heart Foundation, Pre-hospital Care Council, and NAS standards for first responders. Mr Lynch says that anyone can get involved in their local CFR group even if they’ve never had medical training before.
“Anyone can do it. I would guesstimate that around 30 per cent of first responders come from some type of professional background, whether that’s nurses or guards or defence forces, but around 70 per cent of our population are effectively non-medical.
“We have priests, solicitors, teachers, council workers – absolutely everybody can volunteer and we provide all the training,” Mr Lynch added.
At the recent relaunch of the Adare CFR group, which was stood down during the Covid pandemic, chairman Kevin Cribbin thanked volunteers for their dedication and hard work.
He also thanked the NAS representatives, Councillor Bridie Collins and other Adare – Rathkeale councillors for their contribution towards the cost of defibrillators and other equipment used by the group.