SELFLESS heroes who give up their time in the community are trying their hardest to help an overstretched ambulance service.

Now more than ever, Community First Responders are providing vital support across North Wales as the Welsh Ambulance Service and NHS Wales are facing demands never seen before.

When a person becomes seriously ill, every second counts and the role of a community first responder can make a vital difference.

Community First Responders are volunteers who give up their spare time to attend 999 calls and provide emergency care to people in their community.

When a 999 call is made, First Responders are sent to provide essential care until the vehicle reaches the scene. But lately, these volunteers are finding themselves on the scene for a while whilst they wait for an ambulance vehicle due to increasing demands.

The Leader met one CFR at the scene of an emergency which saw an elderly woman who waited over five hours for an ambulance after a fall.

After being alerted by the ambulance service, Stephen Jones, 26, rushed to the scene to give as much help to the elderly woman before an ambulance arrived to take her to the Wrexham Maelor.

He told the Leader: “There has always been pressures the ambulance service face but nothing like what we have seen recently. Before Covid, delays for calls like pains, anything over an hour we would be worried but now it’s become the norm for like five or six hours waits.

“We don’t convey patients to hospital, but we do see some very poorly people, we are left with them for hours on occasions.

“Everyone is trying to provide the best service they can, we don’t usually get backlash from patients, we get praise when we do eventually get here but understandable there is a lot of frustration.”

The volunteers are trained by the Welsh Ambulance Service to administer basic first aid skills, oxygen therapy, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of a defibrillator.

Stephen is a martial arts instructor but as soon as he turned 18, jumped at the chance to become a community first responder.

He said: “It was always something I wanted to go into when I was a teenager and an opportunity turned up when I was 18 and I’ve loved it ever since.

“You just get that fulfilment and satisfaction from helping people. You see them at their lowest and you’re able to provide that support to the service when they are so stretched.

“We are able to go to less urgent cases, we go to a lot of non-injury falls. We make sure they are safe to be left at home.

“At the very start of the pandemic, CFR were stopped for a little bit due to safety and PPE issues. We were re-instated reasonably quickly as we came out of the first wave. That’s when we were used, it was really busy.

“I could put lot of time in providing support as my role in martial arts was stopped.”

Stephen said the public need to take action now to prevent an extremely challenging winter.

He added: “There’s always been that message of choosing well, but now people definitely need to listen. We are seeing a lot of inappropriate calls being made to the service that adds to the demand.

“I’m very worried about winter, I’m dreading it. If we are like this now what will we be facing in a few months?

“The end of summer it’s the start of the winter pressures but these delays have been substantial right through the year, it’s going to be extremely challenging.”

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