Questions over volunteer responders amid pay offer to fire service medics

QUESTIONS have been raised about the role of community responders who would be paid to attend life-threatening calls when volunteers already carry out a similar job for free.

The Argus revealed on Saturday how South Wales Fire and Rescue Service is recruiting firefighters as community responders for a pilot scheme who would be trained to respond to life-threatening calls until an ambulance or rapid response vehicle arrives.

A Community First Responder scheme already operates in Wales which see volunteers support a patient until an ambulance or rapid response vehicle arrives.

There are more than 1,000 Community First Responders volunteering in Wales who complete at least 30 hours of training with the Welsh Ambulance Service (WAST) to provide back up to frontline ambulance services.

They can provide early help for emergencies such as cardiac arrests while providing basic first aid skills to prevent patients with potentially life-threatening conditions from deteriorating.

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service's assistant chief fire officer Andy Thomas said the funding for a pilot scheme, which it and WAST are looking to introduce over the coming months, has been secured by the South Wales Fire and Rescue Authority and that the rates of pay are based on those of a "competent firefighter".

But one Community First Responder, volunteering in the Gwent area, said he was concerned by news of the pilot scheme.

He said: "My real concern is the fact there are thousands of community first responders out in Wales that do not get paid, we are volunteers giving up our spare time to respond to 999 calls within the community until an ambulance arrives.

"We struggle to raise funds to purchase equipment , as it's not all funded by WAST, and for many years struggled to get a communication system for the schemes that was affordable and workable."

The Argus asked South Wales Fire and Rescue Service and WAST for more details on the role of a community responder including how many hours they would have to work, what training would be provided and how the role would differ from the Community First Responder volunteer scheme.

Both organisations failed to respond.

Comments (5)

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9:12am Tue 13 Nov 12

dogone says...

I could not have put it better myself. It will be interesting to see what their reply will be.
I could not have put it better myself. It will be interesting to see what their reply will be. dogone
  • Score: 0

11:55am Tue 13 Nov 12

Nospin says...

If they are going to use full time firemen, then no cost should accrue.

If they are using retained firemen in rural areas providing they use those who are already on call that night, then no extra cost should be applied.

Ie using firemen should be wage free, only equipment is needed.

Where civilians are used they should get the same equipment and same pay rate when on duty.

Calls for a 1st responder should go to the nearest one regardless to whether a fireman or civilian.
If they are going to use full time firemen, then no cost should accrue. If they are using retained firemen in rural areas providing they use those who are already on call that night, then no extra cost should be applied. Ie using firemen should be wage free, only equipment is needed. Where civilians are used they should get the same equipment and same pay rate when on duty. Calls for a 1st responder should go to the nearest one regardless to whether a fireman or civilian. Nospin
  • Score: 0

1:59pm Tue 13 Nov 12

wakkono says...

I am a first responder and its really hard to raise funds to purchase items that we use whilst responding so this to me sucks! We have no means of contacting ambulance control other than a mobile phone, they refuse to give us pagers or radios due to the cost yet they can pay some responders and not others. Im afraid that once you introduce money then people will do this for the wrong reasons
I am a first responder and its really hard to raise funds to purchase items that we use whilst responding so this to me sucks! We have no means of contacting ambulance control other than a mobile phone, they refuse to give us pagers or radios due to the cost yet they can pay some responders and not others. Im afraid that once you introduce money then people will do this for the wrong reasons wakkono
  • Score: 0

5:40pm Wed 14 Nov 12

jonesyofgwent says...

I think this is just another way of the Ambulance service to meet already fabricated targets set by Welsh Government.I believe that there are going to be two fire personnel to each vehicle which obviously equates to £26 per/hour. The ambulance service and their current first responders respond as single responders. I ask why do the fire service see fit to employ two people where the ambulance service employ one on their First response vehicles ( rapid response vehicles ) ?
Is it because the Fire Service are trying to justify their jobs and are no where as busy as the Ambulance Service here in Wales?
I think this is just another way of the Ambulance service to meet already fabricated targets set by Welsh Government.I believe that there are going to be two fire personnel to each vehicle which obviously equates to £26 per/hour. The ambulance service and their current first responders respond as single responders. I ask why do the fire service see fit to employ two people where the ambulance service employ one on their First response vehicles ( rapid response vehicles ) ? Is it because the Fire Service are trying to justify their jobs and are no where as busy as the Ambulance Service here in Wales? jonesyofgwent
  • Score: 0

5:30am Mon 19 Nov 12

insider2 says...

There is a world of difference between well meaning volunteers playing at wanabee paramedics with VERY limited medical intervention skills which don't actually equate to a St John ambulance first aid at work qualification,and professional fire persons trained to a VERY high standard in life saving skills!
There is a world of difference between well meaning volunteers playing at wanabee paramedics with VERY limited medical intervention skills which don't actually equate to a St John ambulance first aid at work qualification,and professional fire persons trained to a VERY high standard in life saving skills! insider2
  • Score: 0

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