Volunteers sought for 'life-saving' new scheme

Dessie Blackadder

Reporter:

Dessie Blackadder

A potentially life-saving 'Community First Responder Scheme' is coming to the Ballymena area.

Volunteers are wanted for the project which organises and trains local people to respond to cardiac arrests in their local area - giving the casualty a better chance of survival.

Last year in Northern Ireland there were 1494 out of hospital cardiac arrests: an average of four a day.

Only one in ten of these people survived to be discharged from hospital. However, with CPR and defibrillation (shocking the heart so it can start pumping blood again) within 3 to 5 minutes of collapse, survival rates can rise to 49% and above.

Ambulance response times to cardiac arrests are typically longer than this, as in Northern Ireland they average 11 minutes.

Andthis is why communities across the Northern Ireland have formed these community first responder schemes.

Volunteers are trained, and dispatched at the same time as the responding ambulance crew, by NIAS.

The Braid Valley is now joining this movement.

Leonard Wharry, the scheme coordinator, explained: "We aim to go live in early summer with a scheme covering Ballymena, Broughshane and the surrounding rural areas.

"Were raising money for defibrillators and other equipment, but our priority is to recruit and train volunteers. People who live and work locally, who can make themselves available to respond and who meet our other requirements.”

If you are interested in finding out more about the Braid Valley Community First Responder Scheme, the scheme organisers, NIAS and Dalriada Urgent Care are hosting an open evening at 7 pm on Wednesday February 6 at:

NIAS North Division HQ

121 – 125 Antrim Road

Ballymena.

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