Community heroes save 16 lives after Severn Trent funded £10k defibrillator

15th January 2024

Hero community volunteers have revealed how they have saved SIXTEEN lives after Severn Trent funded a £10,000 defibrillator and patient monitoring equipment.

Droitwich Community First Responders (CFRs) are alerted to nearby emergency incidents by partners West Midlands Ambulance Service and arrive within the crucial first few minutes of an emergency.

The fully-trained volunteers administer potentially life-saving treatment before ambulance crews get to the scene to take over.

Severn Trent’s Community Fund paid for a Lifepak 15 device in September 2022. It includes a defibrillator and patient monitor which allows volunteers to check on blood pressure, oxygen and CO2 levels and, crucially, to shock a heart back into action.

More than 200 other people have also received vital medical aid from the CFR team, whose aim is to reduce pre-hospital deaths in the area.

Droitwich CFR Chairman James MacDonald started the group in December 2021 after relocating to the area from Bristol. The full-time Associate Ambulance Practitioner said: “There was nothing like this in the area at that time. But I knew we could make a real difference if we could get the right funding and equipment, like the Lifepak 15 and defibrillator.

“We are volunteers but part of West Midlands Ambulance Service and are very proud we have helped saved at least 16 lives and helped more than 200 others.

“We have also provided first aid training to schools, care homes and businesses, including how to do CPR or use bleed control kits and we also provide our community events with medical cover.”

The team of three volunteers respond to everything from cardiac arrests, to asthma attacks and road accidents – all during their spare time away from full-time jobs.

Their main goal is to reduce the numbers of cardiac deaths within the West Midlands area. Another part of their voluntary operation is community outreach projects, such as basic life support training, a public drop in clinic, alongside a homeless appeal.

James, 30, said: “When we are responding, we are alerted to 999 calls within a ten-mile radius by West Midlands Ambulance Service’s emergency operations centre.”

The work of the dedicated team, which also includes trustees and wider family and friends, has already had a huge impact in the community – with some grateful patients returning to say thank you.

“One person came to see us and donated filing cabinets,” James said.

“It was a lovely feeling to know we had helped them, but receiving thanks is not what we do this for.”

James is autistic but says the condition has not held him back in any way. “I suppose I struggled a little to fit in in the past with my autism, but this role has really spurred me on and given me a real purpose. I just love helping people.”

And he praised Severn Trent Community Fund for making the £10,000 donation to buy the life-saving equipment. Kind-hearted locals also make generous donations to the work of the team.

“We have no official public funding, so without the Severn Trent award we would not have been able to do all the work we do – including help save all those lives,” said James.

“We got lots of generous donations from the public, for which we are very grateful. But grants of this size make a real difference to the community and Severn Trent made the whole process of applying very easy for us too.”

Jade Gough, Severn Trent’s Community Fund co-ordinator, said: “We are delighted to have been able to support the clearly crucial life-saving work of Droitwich First Responders.

“To hear the Lifepak 15 and defibrillator has saved at least 16 lives and helped many more is wonderful news and just underlines the value of groups like Droitwich First Responders.”