A PROTEST is taking place next Friday over the future of a volunteer medic service covering rural Cheshire.
Community First Responders – who are on call to deal with life-threatening situations until an ambulance arrives - are fighting North West Ambulance Service’s proposals claiming lives will be lost
The demonstration is taking place in Nantwich over the down-grading of the service following an incident in which a First Responder was not called to a road accident involving a milk float driver who died after suffering a heart attack at the wheel.
The Nantwich First Responder, who is also a part-time firefighter, was not allowed to attend what was classified as a road accident because he is now barred from using a flashing blue light.
The removal of the blue light is the only change to be implemented so far.
Other proposals, such as preventing First Responders from treating children, are on hold pending a meeting of the Cheshire Overview and Scrutiny Committee on July 16.
Grahame Andrews, coordinator of Malpas First Responders, expects the ambulance service will bring in the changes irrespective of the committee’s view.
“I think they are digging their heels in and their minds will not be changed,” said Mr Andrews.
He claims the proposals, which would see First Responders trained to a lower level, would mean a reduction in the number of calls attended by First Responders leading to a loss of motivation and the erosion of skills.
And he is unsure what will happen to his four-strong team if the proposals go through.
“As far as my team is concerned, if we cannot realistically carry on, the vehicle will go back to the garage with a ‘for sale’ sign on it.”
The row has blown up because North West Ambulance Service is standardising its First Responder service across the region following a merger of the local trust with Manchester, Lancashire and Cumbria.
The issue is heightened in Cheshire because traditionally First Responders have been trained to a higher level than elsewhere.
Ambulance spokeswoman Julie Treharne said: “The North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) is meeting with the Cheshire Overview and Scrutiny Committee on July 16 to discuss proposed changes to the Community First Responder scheme and the action it has taken as a result of the recommendations of the recent Health Care Commission Report (HCCR) on the former Staffordshire Ambulance Service.”