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Thursday, 21 August 2014

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Group marks 10 years of helping to save lives

A West Cumbrian first responders group is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month.

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LIFESAVERS: From left: Cockermouth First Responders chairman Steve Wilson and paramedic Ralph Palmer plus Ruth Foster and Billy Winder, who have been with the group since its inception

Cockermouth First Responders – a group of 12 volunteers – are sent out to help people suffering from heart attacks, strokes or seizures, before an ambulance arrives.

They have responded to almost 2,000 call-outs in an area that takes in Papcastle, Embleton, Pardshaw and Eaglesfield.

Members have attended 1,958 call-outs, and in the early days of the group were asked to go to about 10 incidents a month.

Last year they attended an average of 25 incidents a month.

The most common call-outs are related to chest pains, which chairman Steve Wilson said could be anything from people having a heart attack to trapped wind.

Steve, 48, of Fletcher Close, who joined the group in 2006, said: “We take each call as seriously as the last even if it turns out to be something really innocuous.

“The most common call-outs usually happen when the clocks change in March and October, which also coincides with changes in the weather which could also result in a higher number of calls.

“We are all very excited to be celebrating 10 years because we feel we have helped out so many people.”

Steve said one of the most pleasing aspects of the job was seeing people they had helped, although as patients were passed on to the ambulance service, first responders only found out how they were doing if they saw them around town or heard about them from others.

All the members have full-time jobs and Steve said they always needed volunteers.

The group is self-funded, with money raised by donations and events.

Dr Nigel Calvert, NHS Cumbria’s associate director of public health said: “As Cumbria is such a vast geographical area, it’s so important that as residents we all work together to provide our communities with those extra resources which ensure that we all remain as safe and well as possible.

“First responders are a vital aspect of this and serve a very important function in helping people get help quickly, when they need it most.

“We’re keen to build upon this in other areas. I’d like to thank the volunteers for all their hard work.”

The group will celebrate its anniversary with an event at Cockermouth Cricket Club on August 26.

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