Concerns raised over lack of local training for volunteer medics

East Neuk First Responders run first aid courses and provide medical care at local events.

A volunteer medical team in Fife are concerned about their ability respond to medical emergencies after struggling to access training.

East Neuk First Responders run first aid courses and provide medical care at local events.

They also have a team of qualified community first responders who work with the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) to provide life-saving care in an emergency.

They currently have 19 volunteers wanting to take part in training with the SAS to become qualified.

Gill Dennes has been a nurse for 40 years and first applied for advanced training four years ago.

But there are no local training events and she found travelling long distances too much on top of her workload.

“I was thinking it would be a really useful way to enhance my skills, but also use the skills I have after 40 years of nursing,” she told STV News.

“I applied four years ago to be a first responder and I’ve been working with the first responders doing events and first aid treatment at events and conferences.

“But the one thing I’ve not been able to do is become a first responder because I’ve not been able to access the training.

“In order to go out as a first responder you have to go out and do the ambulance training for first responding for the community and that requires two full weekends and those weekends are in Newbridge (near Edinburgh), which is a three-hour round trip for me.

“I did have a place in November, I realised it was quite difficult for me to work as a nurse practitioner and then spend two full weekends studying, travelling there and back. It was just too much.”

The team have lost a third of their current trained community first responders due to external circumstances.

Iain Rooney, who is part of the East Neuk first Responder Committee, is concerned it will leave the area vulnerable if there is a medical emergency. He said: “Because we’re so exposed and because we’re 40 minutes from hospital we’re reliant on fast prompt care from the community.

“There’s just not enough people to cover being on call.

“We’re quite isolated in the East Neuk, we rely on the ambulance service, but the ambulance wait time can be 40 minutes, so it’s quite vital to have a fast first response and that’s what the first responders offer.”

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “Over the next six months we are continuing to deliver a programme of training courses at accessible locations across the country.

“These courses will result in over 100 community first responder (CFR) volunteers being equipped with lifesaving skills, bolstering our fantastic network of over 900 CFRs across Scotland.

“Travel expenses incurred by volunteers are reimbursed and we would encourage applications from prospective volunteers seeking to join any CFR scheme.”

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