Friends of First Responders

St Breward Community First Responders: come and join us?

Have you ever wondered about what you would do if you, or a loved one, suffered a stroke, heart attack, fall or similar emergency, but the ambulance is 15 or more minutes away?

That’s where the Community First Responders step in – to look after the patient until the experts to get there!  They’re taught how to administer oxygen, mostly reassure, and in the worst scenario know how to resuscitate and shock the heart, using a defibrillator, thereby buying time for the patient.

St Breward’s First Responders are now in danger of closing down.  At present we only have two  members who cover St Breward, St Tudy, Michaelstow and Blisland, so much of the week is left to chance.  We desperately need more volunteers from this area: there must be quite a few people around with family or friends who have benefited from the arrival of a First Responder so perhaps you might like to volunteer? Or persuade someone you know to?

Training is provided by SWAST (South West Ambulance Service Foundation Trust) over 2 weekends, the uniform is provided and we are entirely voluntary. You are asked to attend regular training meetings – usually one a month – and you must have a clean driving licence.

It is true to say that our three villages are fairly quiet and you can go for weeks without a call, but yes, when there is one, your adrenaline goes ‘sky-high’!  Imagine, however, the feeling if you have been able to help.

St. Breward is a large village. Surely there must be people ‘out there’ who would like to give it a try?  If you would like more details, or think you can give a few hours, please ring one of the following numbers as your first contact.

Jane Hanscomb        (01208) 850806

Charlotte Hicks         07775 812767 (SWAST Responder Liaison Officer)


 St Breward Community First Responders Midwinter meal


In January, the six current members of St Breward First Responders (Sarah Thomas, Marilyn Hunter, Kevin Foster, Jane Hanscomb, Helen McMillan and Cathy Glaser) plus one retiree (Norma Harbinson) joined with the one First Responder from St Tudy (Phil Tizzard), two SW Ambulance paramedics who are our trainers/liaison officers (Charlotte Hicks and Graham Ferguson) plus various other halves/partners, to enjoy our Midwinter get-together in the cosy kitchen area of the Village Hall. The food was beautifully cooked by Veronica Hill (also a retired First Responder) who was ably assisted by her husband Bill and the evening was much enjoyed by everyone.

Helen will be temporarily unavailable as a Responder as she is now in Masanga Hospital, Sierra Leone where she is the newest recruit as a trustee to the charity Masanga UK. She is taking a month’s leave from her full-time employment as a Critical Care Sister and Clinical Educator at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth. More about Masanga Hospital can be found at

In 2013, St Breward First Responders attended 15 ‘shouts’, mainly in St Breward but also some in surrounding villages: we could have attended more if there were more of us! Community First Responders are trained in CPR and the use of a defibrillator, thus providing life support until the arrival of paramedics. Further details are given lower down this page.

If you are interested in becoming a Community First Responder  for St Breward, you can contact Jane Hanscomb on (01208) 850806 or at  for  a chat, or for more details about training, contact Charlotte Hicks on 07775 812767 or

photo by Peter Glaser




Community First Responders are a group of volunteers – with no medical background – from the local community. South West Ambulance Service Trust provide us with the necessary training to enable us to manage medical emergencies until a paramedic arrives: this includes performing CPR and the use of a defibrillator. We organise a rota for ourselves and tell Ambulance Control when we are available.

What do we do?

Certain medical emergencies are classed as category A and these should have a trained person with the patient within 8 minutes. In a rural community such as St Breward, an ambulance may take more than 8 minutes to get to the patient, which is where First Responders can be very useful, even life-saving.

How are First Responders called by the Ambulance service?

Each First Responder group has a mobile phone: Ambulance Control decides if the situation requires a First Responder, phones the available Responder and provides the patient’s medical details and address.

From a patient’s point of view:

What should I do to make it easy for an ambulance or a First Responder to find me?

 You can:

  • Make sure your house name is easy to see
  • Leave your front door open
  • At night, switch on an outside light
  • Get someone to stand where the ambulance crew can see them


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *