Snodland Community Responders



Snodland Street Sign

Snodland Community First Responders are volunteer members of the community who are trained to respond to emergency calls through the 999 system in conjunction with the South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. Responders are not a substitute for the ambulance crews, but because they are based within the community in which they live or work, they are able to attend the scene of an emergency in a very short time, often within the first few minutes and in the majority of incidents they would be first on scene. The responder can then begin vital life saving first aid or in some cases simple reassurance before the arrival of an Ambulance, further increasing the patient's chance of survival.

Early intervention is vital to improve the chances of survival so responders are trained in the use of defibrillators, oxygen therapy and basic life support. Within those life critical early minutes following cardiac arrest, a heart attack, patients who are unconscious or suffering any other form of life threatening illness or injury responders can and do play a vital role within the community.

The Snodland responder scheme is currently in it's infancy with only four members but are actively looking for more dedicated members of the community to become responders to enable better coverage. This role is purely voluntary but the potential for satisfaction is great, therefore what we need is local people to give up some of their free time to help others, although we can't all support community projects financially, our time is usually more readily available.

We all recognise that in an ideal world we would have an ambulance parked on every street corner in readiness for that emergency call, but being a realist - this is never going to happen. Consequently If we are successful in realising our targets it will enable the Snodland Responder Scheme to give greater cover to the area through longer hours, and hopefully we will be able to give the community some small comfort in knowing we are local and able to give early life saving intervention.

How does it Work?:

A 999 call is made:-
When a 999 call is made, the caller will firstly be transferred to the telephone company operator, who will say to the caller "Emergency which service to do you require?".
Which Service
If the caller asks for the ambulance service the operator will then ask the caller for the telephone number they are calling from (in case the call becomes disconnected) and transfers the call to the ambulance control centre. For Snodland this is the Emergency Dispatch Centre (EDC) in Coxheath near Maidstone.

EDC StaffEDC StaffEDC Staff

The call is then prioritised and help is sent:-
Help starts as soon as the 999 call is answered by the Ambulance control room. The first thing asked is the address where the ambulance is required. As soon as this information is given, a "Control Dispatcher" will immediately start an ambulance en-route. At this point the Dispatcher or dedicated response desk coordinator also checks to see if there is a Community First Responder on duty within the area and if there is they will alert them by sending an alert message via the computer system directly to the First Responder within seconds of the call being made followed up by a phone call and a text message.

Nokia Phone

The dispatcher has various resources available, including Accident and Emergency Ambulances, FRV's (single crewed Paramedic Fast Response Vehicles - see left), Community First Responders (CFR's) such as the Snodland Community Responders team or even the Kent Air Ambulance.

Control can manage all A&E vehicles through a satellite tracking system. This means that staff can identify the nearest vehicle by quite simply looking on a computerised map - which shows where help is needed and where the nearest vehicles is. First Responders show on this system as a static resource when on duty, so the dispatcher can quickly see how near to the incident the First Responder is and how long it should take them to get there, along with the ambulance.

Each Community First Responder scheme covers an area within 5 minutes travelling time of their house, ensuring they are able to provide that vital immediate response. Responders are dispatched to the majority of calls the ambulance service receives but are not sent to incidents which could put them in danger such as road traffic incidents.

While this is going on in the back ground, the "Call Taker" continues to obtain other important information such as the nature of the illness/accident, the patient's condition, age etc. They'll then begin to talk the caller through ways to help the patient, such as how to curb blood loss, look after an unconscious patient or perform CPR.

The Government target for UK ambulance services is to reach 75% of Category A (immediately life threatening) calls in 8 minutes and 95% of Category B (urgent but not thought to be immediately life threatening) calls in 19 minutes.

The text alerts and the First Responder goes into action:-
If the control centre need a First Responder to attend a call they will alert them usually via a text message or a direct phone call. The Snodland Area often has Multiple Responders on call and they all carry an Ambulance Service phone with them, along with the emergency medical equipment in their car boot and a reflective Ambulance First Responder jacket which can be worn while they on scene. As soon as the duty First Responders receive a call out they will drop what they are doing and proceed to the scene, usually in their own cars.
If driving is involved, it will be under the Highway Code and Community First Responders are expected to comply with the law while driving to incidents - at all times.

The call from control tells the First Responder, where the incident is (the address) and also gives brief details as to the condition of the patient. First Responders either attend the incident in pairs or sometimes alone. They carry a mobile phone provide by SECAMB to allow them to call directly to the control room to report back once they have arrived on scene and to relay the condition of the patient, which control can then pass onto the Ambulance or Fast Response Vehicle who will also be mobile and travelling to the scene using blue lights and sirens. Responders can speak to control at any time to ask for directions to the incident or to obtain medical help or advice if required.

On arrival, the First Responder will have all the training and equipment necessary to manage the patient in those first few critical minutes before the ambulance arrives. In many cases, the First Responder may not actually be required to do anything other than reassure the patient and make sure that the ambulance is able to find the location. However, we know that the First Responder could save a life, for example, as a result of a simple airway open manoeuvre, defibrillation or treating choking. The First Responders will always be backed up by an FRV or Emergency Ambulance as soon as possible.

What happens after the incident?
Support for the volunteers and analysis of the impact of the scheme in the community is an extremely important aspect. There may be times when despite all efforts, a patient dies or has already died before help arrives. This can be distressing for everyone involved and the Trust has experience in helping people to cope with these circumstances. Dealing with emergency situations can be stressful, especially if the patient is known to the Community First Responder. There will always be someone who can talk through the incidents and the emotions evoked.

Community First Responders will record information about the interventions they performed and their efforts. All of this information will be analysed by the Trust to ensure that the best possible service is provided to the communities.

What if a mistake is made?
Community First Responder Schemes ensure that local people are trained in simple and safe techniques that can be used to save life. These techniques are rarely associated with causing harm and in true life and death situations, there is often little harm that can be done compared to doing nothing at all. All Community First Responders are trained to a high standard and will be expected to operate within a code of practice. Community First Responders will be indemnified against accidental injury and third party liabilities by South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust. As agents of the ambulance service, they are insured against any medical errors arising, providing protocols are followed.