A COUNCIL leader is throwing his support behind the first responders after it was revealed training was not being offered to volunteers.
Philip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire County Council, has been looking into the problems facing the Dove Valley Community First Responders after Liz Bailey, wife of the late responder Cliff Bailey, told The Advertiser that the training had been withdrawn and the volunteers were not getting vital pain relief drugs.
Councillor Atkins said: “I have asked county staff to look into the issues with West Midlands Ambulance Service.
“It appears one of Dove Valley First Responders is not qualified to the standard that the other two are.
“This means he is not allowed to administrate any drugs, which includes pain relief in the form of Entenox, he’s not allowed to do a blood check for diabetics and not allowed to go to children.
“It appears this extra training has been withdrawn for the last two years by West Midlands Ambulance Service.
“There seems to be several reasons given by West Midlands Ambulance Service why this extra training can’t be done i.e. finance being one of the main reasons.
“Over several years I have supported all three of the community first responder groups across Uttoxeter Rural with Staffordshire Local Community Funding to train volunteers, purchase equipment and pump prime the projects as they form an important community focus, a volunteering opportunity and perform a vital task in reaching calls in remote areas.
“In fact the very first responder nationally was Neil Phillips who was based in Uttoxeter.”
Mrs Bailey spoke out after she was informed that people desperately wanting to join the responders are not being allowed to get the training.
One person in particular has been told he cannot have the training as he lives in Uttoxeter, not one of the surrounding villages, where there is already one paramedic.
However, despite the problems Mrs Bailey wants to reassure residents that the responders are not going anywhere and are not a replacement for the paramedics, they work alongside them.
She said: “The paramedics are brilliant and the first responders are there until the paramedics arrive to issue the pain relief drugs and do whatever they can to support the patient.
“The responders are not taking away the jobs of the paramedics, they are just there to help in an emergency and the paramedic must arrive to assess the situation.”
Matt Heward, community response manager for West Midlands Ambulance Service, has previously said the service recruits 72 first responders from across the region each year.
This has remained the same for five years.
However, there has been a change in the number of people coming forward to act as volunteers 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 pain relief drugs given to the responders.