A GROUP of volunteers who prove lifesavers will celebrate a decade of serving the community and are asking the community to share any memories.

The Barry Community First Responders will mark 10 years of being first at the scene this September and would like residents to get involved.

Around 30 volunteers have averaged 20,000 volunteer hours annually, provided seven days a week cover for 365 days a year, and dealt with just over 5000 patients during the 10 years.

The group began in June 2004 with eight members of the public completing their training to become Welsh Ambulance Service (WAS) Community First Responders (CFR).

They had become active as a CFR team in the Barry community by September 2004.

Every second counts for a patient facing a serious emergency and a Community First Responder can make a vital difference to their lives.

When a 999 call is made, certain types of calls can mean that CFRs are alerted by one of WAS’s three Clinical Control Centres across Wales at the same time as an ambulance so that they can provide essential care until the vehicle reaches the scene.

Bryan Foley, a mortgage advisor from Barry who has been part of the Barry CFR Team since it’s formation, and is a co-ordinator for the group, said: “Community First Responders are volunteers from all walks of life.

“We are not necessarily health care professionals, though of course there are some who have that experience, but we come from various backgrounds ranging from a funeral arranger to a housewife. All of us donate our spare time and volunteer to attend appropriate 999 calls and provide first hand emergency care to our own communities until the ambulance service vehicle crew arrive.

"We're trained by WAS to administer basic life-saving skills, oxygen therapy, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of a defibrillator.

"It's a fantastic feeling, not only helping in your own community but at times actually making a difference between life and death, particularly when we are attending cardiac arrests."

Volunteers joining a CFR team will be trained by a network of WAS support staff in life-saving skills and how to use the equipment available to CFRs.

Prior to training, a CRB and occupational health check will be run and, if successful, an ID card issued. Once a volunteer receives a certificate of compliance, Clinical Control Rooms are then alerted to the new CFR member and they in turn will alert the volunteer to attend calls when they make themselves available on-call.

CFR volunteers are not Rapid Response Vehicle Paramedics and do not replace paramedics or official ambulance staff, they do not use ambulance vehicles with blue lights but use their own vehicles, and do not have a formal uniform - though some schemes do have their own 'working clothes' such as polo shirts.

A celebration of 10 years of Barry CFRs will be held in September and the team are looking for people in the Barry community who have stories to tell regarding the work done and successful outcomes to calls by the CFRs during those 10 years and a look forward to the next decade.

To mark this event it is the intention to run another course in Barry to have another intake of volunteers that would be welcomed for the whole of the Vale.

To join in the celebrations by sharing your story or experience of the help you have received from a CFR at any time during the last 10 years, or if you are interested in becoming a First Responder please contact scheme co-ordinator Bryan Foley on 07779 658331, or email barry.responders@ntlworld.com before the end of August.