Community First Responders This website provides detailed information on the Community First Responder (CFR) volunteers that work for the South Central Ambulance Service NHS trust.
What is a Responder? A Community First Responder or CFR, is a member of the public, trained by the ambulance service, who volunteers to help in their community by responding to 999 calls and medical emergencies before the arrival of the emergency ambulance.

What CFR's Do

The concept of Community First Responders originated in America from the work of Dr Richard Cummins. He discovered that if a series of events took place in a set sequence, a person suffering from a cardiac arrest had a greater chance of survival. These events are known as the Chain of Survival.

Chain of survival

Early Access:

Somebody has to witness the event and dial the emergency services immediately.

Early CPR:

CPR must be carried out right away, this can extend the time a person in cardiac arrest is able to recover by supplying oxygenated blood to vital organs until their heart can be re-started.

Early Defibrillation:

In a lot of cardiac arrest victims, the heart goes into ventricular fibrillation (VF), this is where the heart muscles are contracting too fast and they lose their rhythm. Defibrillation by shocking the heart causes the heart muscles to "reset" themselves and start beating in rhythm again. This is the single most important link in the chain when the other links are all in place.

Early ACLS:

Early advanced cardiac life support is provided by the ambulance crew on arrival, although this is a very important link in the chain if the patient is to recover, it has limited effect if earlier links in the chain are not in place.

Putting it into practice

When this chain was put into practice in America by increasing public awareness, training people in basic life support and placing defibrillators in the community, it improved the pre-hospital survival rate of cardiac arrest patients to between 25% and 30%. There is also evidence to suggest that in cases of cardiac arrest, for every minute that goes by without defibrillation a patient's chances of survival decrease by 10%. By developing groups of Community Responders who are trained to provide the first three events in this chain, there should be a significant improvement in the survival rates in cases of cardiac arrest.

Developing the service

Since the Community First Responders scheme has developed throughout Thames Valley and Hampshire, volunteers now provide vital support to their communities in many different situations; they are able to provide emergency medical care for a wide range of incidents, not just cardiac arrests, as well as providing support and reassurance to patients and their families following a medical emergency.