A group of community lifesaving heroes has issued a desperate plea for more volunteers, after numbers in their group fell to just three.

Unlike 20 years ago, when Hadleigh Community First Responders started with 20 members, limited staffing has meant that in the past few weeks the group have only been on call for a few hours last Friday.

Community first responders are volunteers who are trained to attend certain types of 999 calls and often reach patients in the crucial minutes before ambulance crews arrive, performing lifesaving treatment.

Trevor Sheldrick, from the Hadleigh group, said: “Community first responders are volunteers giving as much time as they are able. The situation in Hadleigh is simply that with only three members currently ‘on the books’, it doesn’t take much for life to get in the way of responding.

“Sickness is our main temporary problem but even with all three active it’s unreasonable to expect so few to provide 24/7 response.

"When our group started 20 years ago there was around 20 members and we almost fought over who was on duty.”

The appeal so far has received a positive response, with at least four people showing an interest in joining, but more are still needed.

Anyone aged between 18 and 70 years old with a full driving licence can apply, though there is a vetting process like any NHS role.

A spokesperson for the East of England Ambulance Service said: “We value our volunteers and are always looking for more people to join our team.

"We have a variety of different roles that people can get involved with, and anyone who would like to make a difference in their community can find out more at eastamb.nhs.uk."