The concept of Community Responders originated in America due to the work of Dr Richard Cummins. He discovered that if a series of events took place in a set sequence, a heart attack victim had a greater chance of survival. These events are known as the "Chain of Survival".
Early Access - to get help and to alert the emergency services immediately without delay.
Early Resuscitation - to buy time, CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) is conducted as soon as possible with the aim of pumping oxygenated blood around the body to give a casualty the best chance of survival.
Early Defibrillation - to restart the heart, in some cases the heart can be shocked back into rhythm which again means the chances of survival increase.
Early Advanced Life Support - to stabilise the casualty, getting them to the medical professionals as soon as practicable.
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 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.
How the Bransgore group started
Residents in Bransgore wanted to start a Community Responder scheme for the village and local area but did not have the required funding to start up. The scheme was to cover an area of about 20 square miles around Bransgore, or to put it another way about a 5 minute drive from the centre of the village.
Bransgore Rotary Club and Christchurch Lions raised enough money to start us off. The money was needed to purchase the emergency life support equipment bag and the all important defibrillator, and to pay for and kit out the individual volunteers. Initially six volunteers were trained and in January 2006 the group became operational. The first emergency call was received on the very night they went live and calls thereafter averaged about 4/5 a week.
Because the group is required to be self sufficient and receives no direct funding from the ambulance trust or government, fund raising is necessary to pay for the equipment and other costs. This equipment includes the defibrillators, equipment bags, replacement batteries, uniform etc. Our volunteers are unpaid and receive no remuneration or expenses even when using their own vehicles. Through street collections, events and the support of grant awarding charities we raised enough money to continue after the first year, and with more volunteers and more equipment, aim to improve the quality of the service provided and the speed of response.