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 because they fear lives will be lost.
The demonstration over the downgrading of the service will be in Nantwich where 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.
Nantwich’s first responder was not allowed to attend because he is 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 on July 16.
Grahame Andrews, coordinator of Malpas First Responders, thinks the ambulance service will bring inchanges irrespective of the committee’s view.
“I think they are digging their heels in,” he said.
He claims the proposals, which would see first responders trained to a lower level, would mean a reduction in calls attended by them, leading to loss of motivation and erosion of skills.
And he is unsure what would happen to his four-strong team.
“If we cannot realistically carry on, the vehicle will go back to the garage with a ‘for sale’ sign on it,” he said.
The row has blown up because North West Ambulance Service is standardising its first responder service following a merger with Manchester, Lancashire and Cumbria.
The issue is heightened in Cheshire because traditionally first responders have been trained to a higher level.
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.”