CONCERNS have been raised about the future of the vital life-saving responders by the widow of the face behind them after being told training and drugs were refused to volunteers.
Liz Bailey, wife of Cliff who passed away last year, has spoken out after claiming training given to volunteers of the Dove Valley Community First Responders was withdrawn by West Midlands Ambulance Service.
She has also been told that vital pain relief drugs, which the volunteers can administer prior to the arrival of the ambulance service, have been taken away.
Mrs Bailey told The Advertiser: “We have people wanting to join the responders and they desperately need more people but the ambulance service will not help them by educating them.
“When Cliff went the responders were left with good people but the problem is that they have other commitments like a family and jobs.
“They will not even advertise the vacancy as they know they are not going to get the training.
“The first responders have the full support of the town and are self-funded.
“They have got the vehicle on their own and they supply their own uniform. None of it comes out of the public purse so why can they not get ambulance service training?
“There are a lot of people who want to be part of the responders and obviously we need them with it being such a rural area.
“They are not educating the people who want to have the training and be on the team.”
Mrs Bailey added that she knows of at least one person who is desperate to become a first responder but has been refused the training.
She said: “It is not just in Uttoxeter, it is all over the West Midlands.
“The people of Uttoxeter deserve better than just to be told volunteers cannot get the training.
“Uttoxeter has always given the responders its support right from the beginning and I do not want them to be let down and I feel they are being let down.
“They save lives and they are so imperative to rural areas where the ambulance service cannot get to quickly.”
Matt Heward, community response manager for West Midlands Ambulance Service, said the service recruits 72 first responders from across the region each year and this has been the same for five years.
However, there has been a change in the number of people coming forward but they do not need responders in the town but from the villages surrounding it.
He said: “There is a permanent paramedic in Uttoxeter and the town is their domain with support from the community first responders on the outskirts.
“We will only recruit people from the communities where they are needed to become first responders and we do not need one in the centre of Uttoxeter.
“If people live on the outskirts then they will get the training.”
He added there has been no change to the drugs given to the responders.