Appeal to boost First Responder service

Forfar currently has one Community First Responder but more are needed.
Forfar currently has one Community First Responder but more are needed.

A fund-raising drive has been launched to help boost and enhance a vital frontline health service in Forfar.

The campaign, being run by the Scottish Ambulance Service, is to provide a fully equipped Community First Responder to help deal with emergency call-outs in the town.

Working with the ambulance service, in partnership with the Order of St John, Community First Responders are volunteers are trained to respond to medical emergencies while an ambulance is on its way.

They possess a wide range of emergency skills, and use specialised equipment such as defibrillators and oxygen therapy to provide early intervention in the event of emergencies including heart or asthma attacks.

Forfar currently has one Community First Responder and local area co-ordinator Bill Spence said a second is awaiting training.

He continued: “All the training is carried out by the Scottish Ambulance Service to their own standards. If there has been a cardiac arrest, they will send a First Responder, someone local who can be there within three or four minutes. An ambulance is also sent, but they could be anywhere at the time.

“It’s critical to get someone to a a patient in the first eight minutes, and if they get defibrillation within three minutes their survival prospects are very good.

“It’s about buying time for the paramedics and they will assist when the paramedics arrive. We currently have one First Responder waiting for training and we hope to get more - the more we have the more we can cover round the clock.”

Each basic defibrillator costs £1300 and Mr Spence said that fund-raising is being carried out mainly using collection buckets and cans.

He added: “When we’ve had collections in Forfar in the past they’ve been in local supermarkets and have been very effective.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about the Community First Responders scheme can contact Mr Spence on 01382 350553 or email