The Wicklow Cardiac First Responders are the umbrella Organisation for 31 Community First Responder Groups in County Wicklow and were set up specifically for assisting people living in rural areas who suffer Cardiac Arrest. For those people every minute counts, their best chance of survival is defibrillation within the first 10 minutes. We have 489 members in 31 (soon to be 33) Community First Responder Groups acrossCountyWicklow. We are a group of volunteers, despatched by the 999/112 Emergency Ambulance Service (VIZA CAD System – SMS TEXT Messaging), and most Groups have organised themselves to be “on call 24/7” to respond to Breathing Difficulty and Cardiac Emergencies in their Communities. The Groups purchased their own AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) and training equipment by fund raising; the training is carried out by our own PHECC CFR Instructors and the work is carried out by the volunteers who give up their time to be “on call”.
Wicklow Community First Responders have been trained to perform CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation), how to use an AED (under AHA protocols) and perform Oxygen and Aspirin Therapy. Upon receipt of a 999/112 call we are dispatched simultaneously with the NAS (National Ambulance Service) Emergency Ambulance. First Responders are only dispatched to Chest Pain, Breathing difficulty and Cardiac related calls within a three mile (5km) radius of their Communities. Because the people “on call” live or work in their area, they can respond in minutes and provide emergency measures and reassurance until the Ambulance Service arrives.
The CFR scheme in Co. Wicklow is the first of its kind in the country. The first groups went “live” in spring of 2005, over a year before “Reducing the Risk: A Strategic Approach. The report of the Task Force on Sudden Cardiac Death” was published. The National Ambulance Service were ahead of their time in helping implement what turned out to be recommendations of the Report and it has been a fabulous success story. The NAS Ambulance Service should be commended for their initiative.
Community First Responders (CFRs) are recommended by the Irish Hearth Foundation, American Hearth Association, European Society of Cardiology, The PHECC and “Reducing the Risk: A Strategic Approach. The report of the “Task Force on Sudden Cardiac Death”. All these organisations suggest Community First Responder Groups as the way forward in strengthening the “Chain of Survival”. Community based First Responders can fill the “therapeutic vacuum” and provide essential simple treatments in those crucial first few minutes before the Emergency Ambulance arrives.
The Wicklow Cardiac First Responder Scheme is a completely voluntary scheme. We receive no central funding. We self manage the scheme under the guidance of the National Ambulance Service. All the above commitment, training, fund raising etc. is carried out by the volunteers, ordinary people, living in small communities, in rural Wicklow, on their own time and at their own expense