The UCC Emergency Care Society last week announced the launch of the country’s very first student-run and student-led community first responders team. The launch comes as part of a collaboration between the Emergency Care Society, the Student’s Union, the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council and the National Ambulance Service.
Community First Responders (CFR) teams are a nationwide initiative first established in 2014 by the National Ambulance Service to aid victims in the time between an incident taking place and an ambulance arriving on the scene. They are only called during cases where an individual suffers from Chest Pain, Breathing difficulty, Choking, Stroke or Cardiac difficulties outside of a hospital setting. It’s during these instances when a quick response (i.e. initiating CPR or the Heimlich Maneuver) is crucial to an individual’s survival. Since 2016, there has been 2389 cases of cardiac arrests outside of a hospital. In 84% of cases, CPR was quickly initiated by a bystander, or a member of the local CFR Team.
The new UCC CFR team are under the leadership of the National Ambulance Service, like every other CFR group in the country. The new group shall cover a 1km radius surrounding UCC. This radius stretches from Dennehy’s Cross to St. Finbarrs Cathedral, and from the Mardyke Arena to the Lough. The group will be working using the National Ambulance Service’s text alert system. This system means that if an incident occurs within the groups 1km radius, the two members rostered to be on call will be alerted by text that there is an issue as soon as an individual calls the ambulance to report a problem .Rather than using cars, the Bike Shed have donated two bicycles for the team’s members to use when they are on call. The Student’s Union has also funded a state-of-the-art AED (Automated External Defibrillator) for the team to use during emergencies.
At the time of writing, there is currently 35 students signed up to the join the team. 19 have been Garda-vetted and CPR trained and are ready for the groups launch, while 16 have yet to complete their training. Each day is divided into two shifts. Shift one begins at 9:00 am. and concludes at 5:00 pm, while shift two begins at 5:00 pm and continues until 9:0 am the following morning. One group, made up of two members of the team, will be rostered to cover each shift. The hope is that the team will receive only one text every fortnight, though the team are prepared to cover any number of texts they may receive. Currently, the group is only trained to cover incidents of cardiac arrest and choking, however it is hoped that if the group is a success in the coming months and years that they would advance to cover both chest pains and strokes. It is also hoped that the group will be able to extend their 1km radius if it proves a success.
Speaking at the CFR teams official launch, the Emergency Care Society’s Chairperson ,Kathryn Lesko, was quick to note that the groups launch wasn’t all plain sailing, saying “I still don’t believe it’s happening. It’s been a year and a half of fighting every single obstacle. Everyone we asked has come up with a reason why we shouldn’t be doing it and there was always something scary, another obstacle, but we’ve always jumped through all the hoops and put out all the fires”. It has only been two weeks since the group got the official go- ahead from UCC administration, with Lesko pointing out “the official all-clear from the UCC administration was buying us the AED. The Student’s Union bought us that as they figured that until we had electricity they [UCC] had control over us, and we purchased that two weeks ago”.Despite the difficulties faced in launching the group, Lesko is just thrilled to have the team ready to go, “There’s a need for it in the UCC area. There is such a high population and there are only six ambulances on call at any one time for Cork county, so there’s not enough. We identified the need and got a fantastic response from students looking to help and here we are, ready to start”.
UCC’s CFR team will finally begin taking texts from Thursday November 1st.