1st Responders

Cecilie starts the resuscitation training
Where to find the Defibrillator in Cattistock

Cattistock and Maiden Newton First Responders came into being in 2008. A First Responder’s primary role is to bridge the gap between a telephone call to emergency services and the arrival of an ambulance, delivering basic life support and defibrillation to those in cardiac arrest, and providing support to patients experiencing other medical problems at their time of need. To someone who has had a heart attack or stroke, time is of the essence, literally every second counts, which is why in rural locations like Cattistock having a First Responder resource is so important as an ambulance cannot possibly take less than 20 minutes to get here from Dorchester.

When the scheme was first set up we had six or seven volunteers. Over recent years the number of volunteers has dropped year on year primarily because people moved out of the area and it has proved difficult to recruit replacements. Today we are down to one volunteer – fortunately the one, Graham Paget – is normally on call every night and every weekend so he provides a fantastic amount of cover by himself. In fact he does more call outs by himself than many schemes manage with half a dozen volunteers. This is Graham’s end of year report for 2021.

Over the past 12 months I have been requested to attend over 150 incidents, compared to 132 in 2020. During this time there has been no other Responder covering this area.

Covid is still very much with us and doesn’t look like it will be disappearing any time soon. The 3rd wave seems to me to be a lot closer to home than the first two. Schools starting again after the summer holidays seem to have kicked started it off. I have attended more cases in the past 3 months than I did in the past 18 months.  We have had it in our own house hold as did many of my neighbours. How I have managed to dodge it can only be put down to being fully vaccinated, having my booster and wearing a mask. Anyone who thinks Covid is a hoax needs to see the effects it can have on someone and their families. Trying to reassure the parents of a baby who is having difficulties breathing or attending a property because a concern for welfare has been bought to the attention of the emergency service due to the home owner not been seen for a few days and on my arrival discovering the very worst Covid can do to someone makes it all very real.

In September I took my L3 Award for Ambulance Service First Responders. This is the new qualification all Responders must take nationally to be able to respond for the Ambulance service. The day consisted of two online theory tests and some practical assessments which I am happy to say I passed.

When I first started Responding 19 years ago I would only attend calls within a 3 mile radius, now I can be asked to travel up to 12-13 miles which just goes to show the strain the Ambulance service is under. With crew sickness and long hand over times at the hospitals there can be a long wait for an ambulance to attend an incident so please choose carefully before calling 999. It should only be used when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk. Here is a check list.

Medical emergencies include:                                                         
Loss of consciousness          
An acute confused state                                                                                             
Fits that are not stopping                                                                            
Chest pain                                                                                        
Breathing difficulties                                                                                  
Severe bleeding that cannot be stopped                                                                
Severe allergic reactions                                                                                   
Severe burns or scalds                                                                                     
Heart attack                                    

The types of calls received by the clinical hub are put into categories from 1 to 4 depending on the severity of the call. I no longer attend CAT 4 calls and now screen CAT 3 calls to see if there is any benefit to the patient if I attend.  CAT 3 calls can often take many hours to resolve and make me unavailable to attend the more life threatening calls should they come at the same time.

CAT 1: calls are from people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries such as cardiac arrest, serious allergic reaction, and catastrophic haemorrhage. These types of calls are time critical and require the fastest response possible. Resources may well be diverted from other calls to attend these.

CAT 2: Emergency calls such as respiratory problems, diabetes, epilepsy & fitting, strokes, acute coronary syndromes. These are all time critical conditions that require a quick response. CAT 2’s are the most common calls I attend.

CAT 3: Urgent calls but not as time critical as the above. Non injury falls where the patient cannot get themselves up often come in to this category.

Best wishes for 2022 – Graham Paget

Anyone who is interested in becoming a Volunteer Ambulance First Responder please register your interest with David Sale

If you have any problems finding the right place on the website please contact me:  Julian English

Defibrillator footnote:

The siting of Cattistock’s Defibrillator in a renovated Phone-box has an interesting history. If you would like to understand how, by the shear hard work of a few people in our community, we now have an iconic red Phone-box to house our Defibrillator, please read here for the story and pictures.

1st Responder Coordinator
1st Responders
Kate Fisher Assistant Community Responder Officer for Dorset