Volunteering to save local lives

Andrew Latham
Andrew Latham

A man who provides emergency treatment to people in Crawley said more volunteers are needed to help his team of life savers.

Community First Responders are local residents who make themselves available to attend 999 calls when an ambulance is unavailable or far away.

These trained volunteers can be at the scene within minutes of the call being made and provide the essential first aid and defibrillation - electric shock to restart the heart.

Andrew Latham, 49, the leader of the first responders team in Crawley, set up the team four years ago and has attended nearly 9,000 emergencies in that time.

“It’s hugely rewarding,” he said. “It’s very much about one’s fellow man or woman and being a support to people in their hour of need.

“I can’t tell you what a privilege it is to be there for people in need.”

The responders team has carried out more than ten thousand hours on call and attended more than two thousand emergencies during that time, 54 of which have been cardiac arrests.

This is important because the chance of surviving a cardiac arrest decreases by 20 per cent for each minute that passes by without the defibrillation.

Andrew, from Pound Hill, carries out his full time job as an interim director and he volunteers for the first aid charity, Saint John Ambulance, but said he still has plenty of time for his personal time with his wife and his dog.

“The great thing about community responding is it’s completely flexible,” he explained. “I do ten to 12 hours a week on call as a responder and that means I can be at home working whilst on call.”

The service is completely self funded and there is a team of fund raisers who organise events to raise money for training, mobile phones and automated external defibrillators (AED).

There are currently eight active responders in Crawley and 12 in training.

Andrew added: “Volunteers have to be able to commit to between four and six hours a week. People have got to have qualities such as compassion, car and ability to think on your feet.

“We would also be very happy to have anyone supporting us in the fund raising team.”

To find out more or to volunteer to become a first responder or fund raiser visit www.crawleyfirstresponders.com/