Suffolk: Become a lifesaver in your neighbourhood

A POTENTIALLY life-saving medical service is seeking to strengthen its capability by recruiting new volunteers.

First responders are rarely in ample supply, but their efforts in an emergency could mean the difference between life and death.

Few local groups are sufficiently subscribed with volunteers, despite the role requiring only a limited commitment of time – and some smaller communities across Suffolk, including Rendlesham and Lavenham, have just one volunteer covering the area.

Members support the ambulance service in making sure that certain types of 999 calls are responded to as soon as possible.

Often first on the scene of an emergency, the volunteers are specially trained to provide basic life support and to use a defibrillator.

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Framlingham is one area keen to expand its membership of 12, which includes co-ordinator Leighton Page. District councillor Christopher Hudson said he was “shocked” by the lack of volunteers in the region.

Jonathan Needle, community partnerships manager at the East of England Ambulance Trust, said: “The role of first responder is ideal for people who want to help benefit their community. Lives could be lost without the service. There are no doubt advantages to arriving early at the scene of an emergency.”

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Ursula Mackley, who leads a group of seven first responders in the Blythburgh area, said the role also extended to reassuring people at the scene other than the patient.

Groups meet regularly across the region and new members complete a weekend training programme, followed by occasional sessions.

They usually provide first aid, before the arrival of paramedics, for people suffering breathing and chest problems, strokes and sometimes cardiac arrest, but do not respond to crashes, pregnancies, paediatric cases or assaults. Volunteers can start training at 17.

For more information, call 01767 600822 from 9am to 5pm, or 01603 481220 out of hours.

You can also visit or request further details by sending an e-mail to

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