CALLS have been made to double the number of life-saving emergency volunteers in parts of the county.

Community First Responders are deployed on 999 emergencies near to where they live and often provide vital first aid during the wait for an ambulance or paramedic.

Fully trained and carrying defibrillators, the CFRs are volunteers coordinated by the South Central Ambulance Service and helped save 13 lives in the county last year.

However SCAS said this year that rising demand is putting “significant pressure on performance delivery” of paramedics.

Now there are calls to increase the number of CFRs in the countyto tackle the shortfall.

SCAS has said it has 1,700 volunteer community first responders across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hampshire.

CFR training officer for SCAS Ian Jones coordinates 100 volunteers in South and West Oxfordshire, but said he needs to have double that number. Mr Jones, who is also a paramedic, said: “In Abingdon we have got five volunteers, and the most beneficial to me would be eight to 10. We could provide 24 hours-a-day cover, at the moment each week is different depending on what volunteers can do.”

In each of the 13 life-saving cases last year, the responder arrived to find a person with no pulse, but quick treatment from the CFR ensured their pulse returned.

Mr Jones said: “That in itself is amazing. Very often it’s just the fact someone arrived quickly.

“They can provide emotional support or just prop someone up in bed, the stuff that often gets overlooked.”

Between April and December 2012, SCAS received 122,352 calls. This rose to 129,856 in April to December last year.

In the region he covers, Mr Jones said his volunteers get 10 to 15 call-outs a day.

Abingdon CFR Karen Jones has volunteered for 15 months while bringing up a young child.

She said: “Having someone in the community who has been trained in first aid and life support and who can reach the patient quickly makes all the difference.”

Ms Jones said the Abingdon team’s biggest aim is to get a dedicated car.

She said: “Patients are looking for an ambulance and you turn up and waste valuable seconds explaining who you are.”

Each volunteer is supposed to have a £2,500 kit including oxygen and a defibrillator – at the moment Abingdon’s team of five is sharing four kits.

The CFRs have also this week started carrying dedicated pagers to be contactable at all times, which cost £15 a week per person to run.

The service hit the headlines in September last year, after community first responder Godfrey Smith was sacked after driving 33mph in a 20mph zone on his way to an emergency.

The Faringdon resident was then reinstated after a public outcry.

Mr Smith was invited to return to his post in October last year, subject to a driver training course.

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