First Responder Schemes

What is a First Responder?

A first responder is a person, trained as a minimum in basic life support and the use of a defibrillator, who attends an actual or potentially life-threatening emergency. This response may be by the National Ambulance Service (NAS ) or by a community first responder or co-responder (e.g. Fire Service) based First Responder Scheme which is integrated with the National Ambulance Service.

What is the role of a First Responder?

The Chain of Survival developed by the American Heart Association, adopted in Ireland by the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF), was the principle catalyst for Community CPR Programmes focussed on early life saving treatment for victims of Cardiac Arrest. Over the last 15-20 years, many members of NAS were central to the successful rollout of these programmes across the country.

In 2006, the Department of Health published the Task Force Report on Sudden Cardiac Death which was subsequently adopted as Government Policy. This document is now the basis for defining best practice models of ‘first responder schemes’ and ‘public access defibrillation’ as well as the integration of such services into the statutory response.   

Recommendations contained within Chapter 5 are particularly relevant to Voluntary Aid agencies and Local Authorities and their Fire Services.

In later years, the role of the First Responder has been further refined and defined by the Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) who published a number of resources in relation to training and education, clinical practice guidelines, and standards for dispatch and response.

Community AED Cardiac First Responder Schemes policy.pdf (size 646.3 KB)