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Scottish Ambulance Service - First Responder Scheme

Latest News on schemes in Aberdeenshire.

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Scotland is a country with both urban and large rural areas. The Scottish Ambulance Service performs extremely well in reaching set performance standards to most 999 calls. In your community, where lengthy distances exist, it is not always possible to achieve arrival within the crucial 8-minute period.

This is where a volunteer First Responder can help, not only the Scottish Ambulance Service, but directly benefit their own community. A local First Responder may be able to reach a friend, neighbour or even a member of his or her own family within a few minutes of a call being received by the Ambulance Operations Centre. The Centre will despatch the nearest ambulance and then contact the local First Responder. He or she can be immediately on the scene, thereby providing a better chance of recovery for the patient.

A First Responder Scheme will be a locally managed group of volunteers who may choose to elect a Local Co-ordinator and plan their own "on-call" rota to cover their own community.

Ideally, each community will have 24-hour cover, 365 days a year but it may not be possible to do this if there are only a few volunteers.

Training of volunteers in defibrilliation and other life-saving techniques is provided. The training lasts approximately 16 hours. Due to advances in medical technology, First Responders using new equipment can now carry out many life-saving interventions previously performed only by highly-trained individuals. These include easy-to-operate automatic external defibrillators.

A Community First Responder Scheme will be provided with the following equipment:

  • Defibrillator;
  • Basic first aid medical kit;
  • Torch;
  • Map;
  • Mobile phone or pager;
  • Protective equipment (Hi-visibility waistcoat or tabard);
  • ID badge (with photograph).

The Scottish Ambulance Service Community Co-ordinator will keep close contact with the Local Co-ordinator and provide training, equipment and administrative support.

A minimum of five volunteers are required in order to set up a scheme. Four schemes are planned in Aberdeenshire, in the first place.


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A new First Responder scheme has been set up in Huntly with a dozen volunteers in training. It is planned to provide the service in the town from 1 December 2006. The scheme has benefitted through funding from the Garioch & North Marr CSG and the local Rotary Club.

Ron McKail, Chairman of the Garioch & North Marr Community Safety Group.

"The Garioch & North Marr Community Safety Group  which provided £300 of funding to kick start the Huntly First Responder Scheme are very pleased that the hard work of these local volunteers in setting up this scheme has come to fruition. The Huntly First Responders are to be congratulated in providing a much needed service to their community and is so doing are making their contribution to making their community  safer."

A self-funding scheme is being set up in Newmachar. A number of people have already volunteered but more are needed. Fund raising is on-going with a target of £3,500 for equipment. Training of volunteers will begin at the end of August. If you would like to volunteer or to make a donation, please telephone Mike Taylor (01651-862234).

A self-funded scheme has been set up in Pitmedden where nineteen people have come forward to set up the on-call rota. The initial training took place at the end of January. Local residents raised £4,000 to purchase the necessary equipment including a defibrillator.

A second self-funded scheme has been set up in Westhill & Kingswells twelve volunteers were trained in early February. Fund-raising resulted in £3,500 being made available to purchase a defibrillator and other equipment.
Contact Ron McKail the Chairman of the Garioch & North Marr Community Safety Group if you want to contribute or if you want more information.

A third self-funded scheme was launched in Stonehaven in mid-February. Six volunteers have been trained in defibrillation and basic first aid. The smaller number means that the new cover will be provided Monday to Friday between 6am and 11pm. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer should contact Fiona Buchanan on 01224 812200.

There is initial interest in setting up a scheme in Sauchen. Some literature has been sent out.

Four other Aberdeenshire schemes which are already going or planned are listed below.


In Inverurie, a full team was set up in June 2004 with a Local Co-ordinator (see above). Consideration is being given to extending the coverage provided by the Inverurie team to the likes of Kintore, Kemnay and Oldmeldrum.
Return to the Garioch & North Marr page.

In Turriff, a full team of five volunteers is required. Contact Brain Jaffrey (details below) if you want more information.
Return to the Banff & District page.

In Peterhead, four volunteers have been recruited of the five required. Contact Brain Jaffrey (details below) if you want more information.
Return to the Buchan page.

Brian Jaffrey,
Scottish Ambulance Service,
Northeast Divisional Headquarters,
Ashgrove Road West,
Aberdeen.
AB16 5EG

telephone: 01224 812200
email: bjaffrey@scotamb.co.uk

Get more information about the Scottish Ambulance Service's First Responder Scheme from their web site.


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The Chain of Survival

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In 1990 Dr Richard Cummins from Seattle, USA discovered that if a series of events took place in a set sequence, a heart attack victim would have a greater chance of survival. These events are known as The Chain of Survival.

  • Early Access to Emergency Care must be provided by calling 999.
  • Early CPR should be started and maintained until arrival of the ambulance.
  • Early Defibrillation can restart the heart function of a person with ventricular fibrillation (VF).
  • Early Advanced Care, the final link, can then be administered as required by Paramedics.

When each link in the chain works successfully, the chance of surviving sudden-onset cardiac arrest increases greatly.

Since more than 70% of sudden cardiac arrest cases occur out of hospital, it is unlikely that Paramedics will be on the scene at the onset.

Community First Responsers with quick access to defibrillators can be a vital asset when sudden cardiac arrest strikes.

People who survive sudden cardiac arrest have an excellent prognosis:

  • 83% survive for at least one year, and;
  • 57% survive for five years or longer.

Clearly this shows that early defibrillation is a key intervention in The Chain of Survival.
Click on the logo to find out more from the Chain of Survival web siteLink to the Chain of Survival web site



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