NARS first responders essential in maintaining the chain of survival
PUBLISHED: 10:14 29 July 2020
As part of our week-long series celebrating the 50th anniversary of Norfolk Accident Rescue Service (NARS), Steve Maddams discusses his role as a NARS first responder and how important they are at the scene of life-threatening emergencies in Norfolk.
The chain of survival concept refers to a series of actions that must be executed in time to reduce the mortality rate of those who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest outside of hospital. Early access, early CPR, early defibrillation, early advanced cardiac life support – these are the four links in the chain. With chances of survival falling by 10pc each minute without treatment, each of the links in the chain is just as important as the next.
NARS first responders are one of many groups who respond for East of England Ambulance Service and are vital in maintaining the chain of survival as they can be the first to arrive on the scene. They are trained to provide basic life support including CPR, airway management and administering oxygen therapy.
Steve Maddams has been volunteering as a first responder in his local group in the Wymondham area since 2015. He has attended around 1,400 calls including 300 cardiac arrests and helped launch the NARS First Responder Scheme alongside chairman Chris Neil in July 2018. Since then, the team have been tasked to approximately 1,350 emergency calls across Norfolk.
“My son had a febrile convulsion when his body temperature got too hot while at Center Parcs,” Steve says. “I had no idea what to do and that experience led me to educate myself on what to do in a medical emergency. I did some research and came across the community first responders, and decided to volunteer to help.”
NARS has around 20 first responders, all of whom volunteer for their local groups, giving up additional time for their shifts with NARS. “Our volunteers come from all walks of life. They work as teachers and police, in marketing and as directors – a range of occupations that they do in the day, but they save lives by night,” says Steve.
“First responders are dispatched the same as other frontline resources from the ambulance control room, and we are sent to provide cover where needed in Norfolk. We respond to life-threatening medical emergencies in our response vehicle, which was kindly donated by the Potters Friends Foundation and NARS patron John Potter.”
The money donated by Potters helped NARS purchase a Volkswagen Tiguan – a versatile vehicle that facilitates rapid response in all seasons.
“NARS first responders are crucial as we provide additional cover to areas of need within Norfolk, attending emergencies within the first few minutes of a 999 call – and with cardiac arrests, every minute counts.
“I have been involved with four patients who have gone into cardiac arrest and were discharged home after we successfully resuscitated them on scene.”
At the NARS base in Dereham there is a ‘survivor wall’ where patients sign their name after meeting the team of volunteers that pulled them back from the brink. One of the names on the wall is Kevin Bird, a painter from Reepham whom Steve helped keep alive after a cardiac arrest.
Steve emphasises that there are two vital ways in which you can help maintain the chain of survival: by learning CPR and by donating to NARS.
“The more people who know CPR the better,” he says. “And by donating you can not only help us train the people of Norfolk in CPR but you will ensure we can continue to save lives. We solely rely on donations and every penny goes towards keeping us operational.”
For more information or to make a donation please visit nars.org.uk
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