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Over 300 delegates attend National First Responder Conference

The event, which was opened by the Director of the National Ambulance Service (NAS), Mr Martin Dunne, is hosting over 300 First Responders from all over Ireland. Building on the success of #Respond2014, this year’s event is focusing on training standards, use of technology to enhance response times, and establishing new CFR schemes

Community First Responders (CFRs) are civilian responders who are trained to international standards in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, defibrillation and oxygen therapy. They are part of a local CFR scheme, which is linked to the NAS.

When the emergency services are alerted to a case of cardiac arrest, chest pain, choking or stroke, a civilian responder from the local CFR scheme is automatically dispatched to the scene along with the ambulance services.

The local CFRs can often attend the scene before an ambulance will arrive, and in cases where time is critical, such as cardiac arrest, this can save lives. Currently there are more than 100 CFR schemes around the country, all linked to the NAS.

Approximately 15 people die from cardiac arrest in Ireland every day.

Dr David Menzies, Medical Director of CFR Ireland, said: “The rate of survival from cardiac arrest is completely dependent on the speed of response. The best chance of survival is defibrillation within the first 10 minutes.”

For every one minute without treatment, the chances of survival drop by 10 per cent, according to the European Resuscitation Council Guidelines, 2010.

Dr Menzies added: “2013, the most recent year for which we have complete data, showed an increase in the rates of bystander CPR and defibrillation prior to ambulance arrival. Through the expansion of CFR schemes, we can increase this further still and ensure less people die.”

The conference has also heard from Prof Douglas Chamberlain, a renowned international expert on resuscitation. Prof Chamberlain has stressed the importance of early activation of Community First Responders by the ambulance service – suggesting that it should occur within 30 seconds of the 999 call. In Ireland, the NAS-linked CFR schemes are activated within this time frame.

Also speaking will be Dr Mark Wilson of London’s Air Ambulance and creator of the GoodSAM app. This app, which is entering testing with London Ambulance Service shortly, identifies the nearest trained responder and defibrillator using mobile phone technology and alerts them to a cardiac arrest at the same time as the ambulance service is dispatching an ambulance.

Almost 200 responders have signed up to the GoodSAM app in Ireland already.

Mr John Fitzgerald, Co-Chair of CFR Ireland, concluded: “Only 6.6 per cent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital environment actually survive. In 2015, we aim to double the number of CFR schemes around the country, establish a national Automatic External Defbrillator registry and increase the number of survivors of out of hospital cardiac arrest.”

#Respond2015 is supported by the Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC), the NAS and the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF).

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