WOKING Community First Responders (CFRs) are looking for more financial support so that they can increase their numbers and also provide more public access defibrillators.

The CFRs are volunteers who are trained to respond to emergency calls through the 999 system in conjunction with the South East Coast Ambulance Service.

Based in and around Woking, they are able to attend the scene of an emergency in a very short time, often in the first few minutes, and in the majority of incidents they are first person on the scene. The responder can then begin lifesaving first aid before the arrival of an ambulance.

Conor Maher, the Woking CFR team leader, said they are self-funding, relying on support from organisations such as churches and Rotary clubs.

Mr Maher said more support would allow the eight-strong team to be expanded to 12 and beyond as well as upgrade their defibrillators and other medical equipment, meaning their defibrillators could be recycled for public use within the borough.

“We are one of Woking’s best-kept secrets, running for about 12 years, in which we have responded to around 4,500 emergency 999 calls.”

He said it costs about £2,000 to equip each new responder with a full kit, including defibrillator, uniforms and diagnostic medical equipment.

“Most companies have community engagement programmes but often find it difficult to find a local cause to support. Woking CFRs are a very worthy cause as we directly support the local community and in return for financial sponsorship can also recycle our defibrillators into a sponsor’s office and train staff on their use.”

At the peak of the coronavirus, the team additionally supported the ambulance service with vehicle preparation at local stations and manned crew welfare vehicles at the hospitals. Woking CFRs are fully operational at this time and wear appropriate PPE to protect themselves, patients and families.

Mr Maher said Woking CFRs maintain a number of public access defibrillators across the borough such as those located within the Peacocks shopping centre and Woking railway station.

“We cover a full range of 999 calls, although some we don’t attend for safety reasons such as road traffic accidents.”

Mr Maher works in London as a treasurer and has been a CFR since 2014 after being a first-aider at Chobham Rugby Club for several years. He said his favourite part of the role was making a difference to someone in urgent need.

“There are many people in our community who are isolated, vulnerable or infirm and your encounter with them can often be the beginning of a longer term help plan for them,” Mr Maher said.

He added: “I have always believed in the personal benefits of volunteering and the Community First Responder role offers a unique opportunity to develop new skills while giving something back to your local community.

“It is a privilege to be invited into someone’s home at a time of great personal need, helping them and their families through an emergency medical situation.”

For more information, visit www.woking-responders.co.uk or email [email protected]

For more on this story, get the 17 September edition of the News & Mail