In a large rural area with many small roads, getting an ambulance or doctor to someone in trouble can take time. In 1999, Lincolnshire Integrated Voluntary Emergency Service, aka Lives, set up a first-responder scheme, training people in simple and safe techniques to save life, especially for suspected heart attack victims. There are now 158 groups in the county and the volunteers in our local village community attend 100 people a year. It costs about £4,000 to train a group and the bulk of this funding comes from local charitable donations.
First responders are sent primarily to the Category A 999 calls deemed serious or life-threatening and often find people suffering from cardiac arrest, stroke or choking. They will carry defibrillators and oxygen and will be trained to clear airways, control bleeding and take charge of the situation until professional help arrives. This might be from the NHS but is just as likely to be from the Lives medics service - volunteer doctors, nurses and paramedics who can take over from the first responders until an ambulance arrives.
None of this would happen without cooperation from the medical and ambulance services - the latter hosts the Lives first-responder control and dispatch. If you experience chest pain while in the area and call 999, you may well find someone from the first responders team is the first to arrive. The next could be the Lives volunteer medic on the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance Charitable Trust helicopter.
Charles Kenyon lives near Market Rasen, email@example.com