An England rugby fan received the shock of his life before the Six Nations rugby final in Cardiff last weekend when he was given life saving treatment while suffering a cardiac arrest.
The First Responder Cyclists (FRCs) initiative – a partnership between St John Wales and the Welsh Ambulance Service – was only officially launched on Saturday morning and soon after the FRCs were called to a cardiac arrest patient in the city centre.
The England supporter was shocked twice with a defibrillator and was taken to the University of Wales Hospital, where he is now conscious and stable.
St John Wales volunteer and FRC Dean Williams was first on the scene. He said: “Thanks to the bicycles we were there in just over two minutes. I’m so glad we have been able to give the gentleman, who was an England supporter heading to the match, a chance and I hope he recovers.
“We attended another five calls during the day, including a very young child having a fit. I’m just proud to be part of the team, and so grateful to all the organisations which have kindly sponsored and supported us.”
Each member of the team carries a range of life-saving equipment, including a defibrillator and resuscitation kit, and the FRCs are in contact with the ambulance control via their mobile phones.
Keith Dunn OBE, Chief Executive for St John Wales said: “The fact that they were called to save a life only hours after the official launch highlights how important the FRCs are. This is particularly evident on a day like Saturday when the emergency services are stretched, due to high-profile events such as the Six Nations Final.
“I am delighted that the scheme is growing in numbers and that, through the generosity of the sponsors, vital lifesaving equipment has been provided to make the difference – saving lives.”
The launch of the First Responder Cyclist scheme in Cardiff follows a successful pilot period over Christmas and New Year. St John Wales and the Welsh Ambulance Service in partnership have provided a team of seven FRC volunteers. The team work on shifts using specially modified mountain bikes to cover the city's streets, pedestrian precincts and shopping arcades on Saturdays, and providing additional shifts when they are available.
In many cases, the trained FRCs will be able to reach patients quickly ensuring that any essential life saving skills can be commenced immediately. As in all call-outs for Community First Responders, an Emergency Ambulance or Rapid Response Vehicle (with a Paramedic on board) will also be sent to each incident to ensure that a full clinical assessment of the patient can be completed by a qualified ambulance clinician.
The cyclists have support from St David’s/Dewi Sant Centre which has provided a base for them in the precinct, and sponsorship from Cardiff Metropolitan University (UWIC), Cardiff Bay Rotary and Cardiff East Rotary.
The Ambulance Trust’s Head of Service for the Cardiff and Vale area, Bob Tooby, commented: “The pilot over Christmas and New Year dealt with 31 patients with a mixture of conditions including cardiac arrests and falls. The trained voluntary community first responders provided a fantastic service with the longest response time being 4 minutes. The main advantage of this scheme is the fact that the cyclists are able to weave their way through traffic and pedestrians and get to a patient’s side quickly, even if they were in one of the arcades or large stores.”
The service has more than 1000 Community First Responders across the country who are trained to provide an immediate response to patients in their communities and provide basic life support skills where they are required. They are essential to ensure that the chain of survival, which is key to ensuring that as many lives as possible are saved in the event of a cardiac arrest, is in place.