Thursday 3rd April 2014 – 10am – Chris Kowalik.
At 72, Graham Wride still volunteers himself for up to forty hours a week, making himself available to respond to medical emergencies.
Graham from Wickhamford in Worcestershire, formerly a nurse, a psychiatric nurse and a mental welfare officer/social worker, applied to become a Community First Responder (CFR) seven years ago as he approached retirement. Since then he has responded to more than a thousand emergencies.
He said: “I very much remember the first case; a gentleman in our village who had fallen. He was quite a poorly man, he was unable to get off the floor. With the paramedic who backed me on the call we determined he had been on the floor for some considerable time. We eventually got him back onto his bed and the paramedic arranged for some follow-up care for him. The gentleman eventually went into a care home.
“I very well remember the very first cardiac arrest I went to. I have to admit it was a very frightening experience. It was frightening because it was the first one. It was in a public place, in a shop. I managed to get to defibrillate the man three times before a back-up crew had arrived. They were happy with the way I dealt with it. I did explain to them it was my first arrest – they said I had handled the situation very well. It was nice to have a bit of a compliment on that. On leaving the incident I had to stop the car because the adrenalin was still pumping a little bit too much for me to continue driving.”
Graham is a Trustee of the Hereford & Worcester Community First Responders, a registered charity (number 1124035). To become a Community First Responder, Graham was trained by West Midlands Ambulance Service. Following his qualification as a CFR, he is called by the ambulance service’s control room to a medical emergency near him while an emergency ambulance service vehicle is en-route. In addition to his making himself available for the ambulance service, Graham is also a member of St John Ambulance in Evesham.
Graham said he couldn’t do it without the support of the community: “They raised the money for the kit that I carry; specifically the Wickhamford Sports and Social Club who raised about £3,000. They have been very, very supportive. They have been a tremendous financial help to me which has allowed me more time to do the work that I do in the community. Some of the members who I know contributed have been beneficiaries of our service.”
Graham plans to continue responding for as long as he can, but more volunteers are needed in Evesham’s other outlying villages such as Broadway, Pebworth and Honeybourne.
He said: “If you are thinking about it – go for it. Try it. If you don’t like it, you’re a volunteer – you can drop out. You don’t have to have any special skills except I think you need to care about people. The training is more than adequate to cope with anything you are likely to encounter. You are not assigned to a job that you won’t be able to cope with. It is a very worthwhile thing to do. It is very satisfying in many respects particularly when you manage to revive someone.”
For more information about the work of Community First Responders or to become one yourself:
visit www.wmas.nhs.uk and click on “about us”, then “CFRs”,
visit the Hereford & Worcester CFR Scheme website www.hwcfr.org.uk
Call Noel Orbell, Community Response Manager for Hereford and Worcester on 07980 094808
or contact the CFR Admin Office via CFRAdmin@wmas.nhs.uk or call 01384 215855.
You can hear Graham Wride talking to West Midlands Ambulance Service’s Chris Kowalik here: