HSE National Ambulance Service awards medals to Community First Responders for volunteer support throughout Pandemic

National Volunteering Week 2022 (16-22 May) 

This week, the HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS) marks National Volunteering Week by recognising just under 1,000 Community First Responders (CFR) for their valuable volunteer work and commitment throughout the pandemic. This year, the theme of National Volunteering Week is “Celebrate and Reconnect”.

Robert Morton, NAS Director, expressed his sincere thanks for the invaluable support of CFR volunteers: “CFRs are volunteers who are trained to attend certain types of emergency calls in the area where they live or work. Their aim is to reach a potentially life-threatening emergency in the vital first minutes before the ambulance crew arrives. Their role is to help stabilise the patient and provide the appropriate care, including defibrillation, until the ambulance crew arrives on scene to take over the treatment.

CFRs are an integral and valued link in the 'Chain of Survival' as they can provide essential treatments in those crucial first few minutes prior to the arrival of the National Ambulance Service. We extend our gratitude and appreciation to each volunteer for their help in saving people’s lives.”

CFR groups who are linked to the NAS National Emergency Operations Centre are alerted to an emergency in their area, and as they are community-based can provide medical assistance within minutes of a 112/999 call being received. In relation to cardiac arrest where the patient’s heart has stopped pumping blood around the body, the sequence of events that follows is known as the ‘Chain of Survival’.

Ger O’Dea, NAS National Community Engagement Manager said: “CFRs have a massive impact on the lives of people every day. We are delighted to award each volunteer a token of our gratitude and acknowledgement of the important role they have in NAS. The awards will take place in a number of communities across the week in Mallow, Kilkenny, Bundoran, Galway, Dublin and Drogheda.

“We would also ask if people are interested in the work of a CFR to come forward and volunteer, there are lots of opportunities in local communities around the country to get involved. Full training and support will be provided.”

CFRs were stood down from emergency activations, for safety reasons, in March 2020. However, many members took on other roles in their communities e.g., delivering groceries and medicines, assisting those cocooning, etc. CFRs also volunteered at swabbing sites, vaccination centres and PPE preparation centres, arriving at a moment’s notice and ensuring that key activities throughout the pandemic remained on course. In December 2020, following additional PPE training, CFR volunteers reactivated to responding to emergency calls and have remained doing so ever since.

John Fitzgerald, CFR Ireland Volunteer Chairman said: “Like most volunteers, Community First Responders don’t get involved with community service for notification or gratitude. They just want to give something back, to make their community a better, nicer, safer place to live and work. This recognition from the National Ambulance Services is very humbling”.

For further information on becoming a Community First Responder please email cfr@hse.ie

Last updated on: 16 / 05 / 2022