FIRST responders are trained to the level they are needed at to look after the patients, the ambulance service covering Uttoxeter has said after fierce criticism from the wife of a respected volunteer.
Murray MacGregor, a spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service, told the Post and Times that the service is currently reviewing the level of training given to all first responders after Liz Bailey, wife of Dove Valley Community First Responder Cliff, spoke out against training given to volunteers.
The spokesman also clarified there was one team of paramedics in Uttoxeter which consisted of five people not just a paramedic working on his own.
But Mrs Bailey accused the service of possibly causing unnecessary deaths if they do not support the responders with the vital training and drugs that they need.
Mr MacGregor said: “Of all the responders across the region, only a third are trained to an enhanced level and we have never had 100 per cent trained to that level.
“To suggest that all responders have got advanced skills is not and never has been the case.
“A couple of years back the Healthcare Commission did a report into all Community First Responders groups and it was very critical of some of the drugs given to the responders.
“The trust has the view that we need to bring in standardisation and that takes time. The standard we are using is accredited by FPOS (First Paramedic on the Scene) and this is being used across the country.
“There are different levels within this. The responders were originally brought in to deal with cardiac arrest as this is where every second counts.
“They are designed to get to people within rural areas quickly and therefore the responders are of primary importance with cardiac arrest so they are fitted with a defibrillator and oxygen as well as basic first aid.
“However, in Staffordshire the responders have a wider remit. Some people don’t want to have additional training and if they are given the additional skills then they need to use them regularly to keep the skill.
“We are actively recruiting responders and training them to the appropriate level.”
Mr MacGregor added that the responders were vitally important to the ambulance service and respected for what they do.
Mrs Bailey spoke out after she found volunteers were not getting the training they needed to become responders, despite responders moving on and no one replacing them.
She said: “If there is money for training then there shouldn’t be a problem. Why are they not training in this area or getting a second paramedic to cover the area.
“If they do not want the community first responders then are they willing to accept unnecessary deaths?
“What is the problem with giving the first responders training like Cliff and his colleagues had with East Midlands, which was very comprehensive?
“Paramedics have said that Cliff knew what he was doing and they were always delighted to see him on the scene as he would have done the tests and given out the pain relief drugs as he was trained to do.”