What follows is the letter written by one of our (Highley’s) First Responders. It is self-explanatory so without further ado…
Local Life-saving Scheme forced to halt due to petty bureaucracy.
Highley First Responders, a scheme, manned by volunteers, to attend 999 calls in advance of the ambulance, to assist patients has been forced to halt because of WMAS governance issues.
The scheme in Highley, has been operating successfully for 20 years. Responders were initially trained on an FPOS course (First Person on Scene). In addition to this course, all responders have attended mandatory annual training to keep up to date with current medical practices, and to be reassessed on their life-saving skills.
The training provider has now changed. The course is now FROS (First Responder on Scene) which is essentially the same medical content.
The two remaining responders in Highley, Dave Fulton and Nigel Preece, were booked on to attend the new FROS course in September which ran for 3 weekends. Due to circumstances beyond their control, neither was able to attend. Dave offered to take the course on line, but this was not available. He also requested that the scheme be allowed to continue until the end of the year when he may be able to attend a future course, This time delay would also the opportunity for new recruits to be sought and trained to enable the scheme to continue.
The pleas fell on deaf ears and Highley First Responders were told that until such time as they took and passed the new course, they would be made inactive on 30th. September 2021, which has now happened.
During the past 20 years the Highley Scheme has contributed approx. 140,000 hours on call, and attended more than 15,000 999 calls but this experience has been ignored by WMAS.
Dave recalls several instances where patients in Highley have been saved by the use of their Defibrillator ahead of arrival of the ambulance to cardiac arrests. One person is amazingly still seen walking round the village 18 years on from being saved. Another was actually a Highley First Responder who ‘died’ some 15 years ago whilst playing Badminton. He was brought back to life by one of the other First responders in the group, and is happily still very much alive and active.
The scheme is far from the patient caring scheme it was first set up for. Responders were called to all 999 calls regardless of their severity. Since 2020, responders are only now called to life-saving emergencies such as strokes, cardiac arrests, severe breathing difficulties, (Category 1 and 2). They are no longer responded to Category 3 calls which could be broken limbs, falls, and other ailments which are the majority of calls in Highley. Consequently, the number of activations in Highley as a result of this decision has fallen from some 15 a week to less than one a week. This decision ignores the needs of patients who are sometimes left on the floor in agony for several hours before an ambulance arrives.
Dave recalls one particular instance when responding to a rider who had fallen from a horse. Dave was on scene in 4 minutes to find t6hat the person had been lying in agony for nearly 3 hours. The call was upgraded from a Cat 3 to Cat 2 after the riders partner arrived (from Cheltenham) and made a second irate call to 999. On examination it was suspected that the rider could have a pelvic fracture and the Air Ambulance was then activated.
The scheme car and all the equipment, which was provided with contributions from local people supportive of the scheme, will be maintained until such time as the Highley scheme can continue.
Dave and Nigel are grateful for all the support the village has given over the past 20 years, and regret that they can no longer help patients for the foreseeable future.
Dave Fulton, Highley,
Copy of email to WMAS and reply.
Not sure if you will be able to help, Martin from Alveley suggested I send you an email.
I have been a CFR in Highley for 20 years now, obviously trained on FPOS course. I also carry out CPR training for local groups in Highley and surrounding area.
Now the course is FROS so must be retaken. I was booked on the course this month but circumstances will prevent me attending (daughter is having major knee surgery and will be inactive for possible 3 months), As we have horses to look after I have to attend to these each morning and evening for her making it impossible to attend course. I have approached Cliff Medlicott and asked if I can remain active till next year when I can take the course, and even suggested doing something on line in the interim. Cliff said this was not possible and I would have to finish on 30th. September 2021.
After 20 years service I would have thought a more understanding approach would be forthcoming.
The problem is, I am the last cfr in Highley, covering some 100 hours a week. I have put the feelers into the community for additional volunteers and response looks good. Is there any way I could remain active until new recruits can take over.? Otherwise the Highley scheme will have to finish.
Hope you can help.
Regards Dave Fulton call sign ****, PRF No. ****
Unfortunately due to the changes in governance for CFR’s there is a requirement that has been agreed by the Trust Board, that all CFR’s must have a regulated qualification which is only ASCFR or the FROS qualification from the 1st October 2021. This was agreed as part of the Initial Response Model back in April 2020 which saw the standardisation of the CFR’s operating across the Trust and why we have had many course planned for this year to enable all to book on to a course.
I and the Trust do truly thank you for all the years that you have completed for your community over the last 20yrs, it is amazing and this is now more about the governance requirements for where we are today. This is not about ability, this is about governance that underpins the CFR’s being able to respond now and for the future. Due to this, all CFR’s that do not have the ASCFR or FROS course completed by the 30th September, they will have to pause from responding until this requirement is met.
We will work you and each individual to make the best of this situation.