UCC students get on their bikes to help save lives

By June Shannon CPR News   |   28th Feb 2020

UCC students from the College of Medicine and Health are working with the ambulance service to deliver CPR and defibrillation in an emergency

Students from University College Cork (UCC) are helping to save lives by supporting paramedics in the local ambulance service as Community First Responder (CFR) volunteers.

UCC Community First Responders (CFR), are students with UCC’s College of Medicine and Health, and they work in conjunction with the National Ambulance Service, to provide support to Cork City’s busy wing of the service.

Every UCC CFR volunteer receives extensive training aimed at equipping them with the necessary skills to respond effectively to an emergency, manage patients in the community, and handle stressful situations. The core training is run by the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council of Ireland (PHECC).

Every weekend, from Thursday to Sunday, for 24 hours, teams of two trained student responders wait on call. In an emergency situation, the team on duty will receive a notification text from the ambulance switchboard. Equipped with bikes – donated by local business The Bike Shed – and a portable Automated External Defibrillator, the UCC CFR team cycles to the site to provide support to the paramedics from the local ambulance service.

“ We knew exactly what to do: how to perform CPR in an efficient way, how to rotate between responders,"

Andrew Namespetra, , UCC medical student and Chair of UCC CFR

Andrew Namespetra, UCC medical student and Chair of UCC CFR, who has been involved in a number of emergency call-outs said, “My partner and I were called out to the scene of a cardiac arrest in a home. Our colleagues from the Cork City First Responders were already there, just before the ambulance arrived.

“We knew exactly what to do: how to perform CPR in an efficient way, how to rotate between responders. That freed up the hands of the two paramedics who had arrived, to do other tasks – more advanced care such as airway management and defibrillation – while we did most of the chest compressions.”

Providing care and support to the patients’ families is also an important aspect of the role, Andrew said.

“When we’re called out, the ambulance is always called to the same scene. Once the patient is brought to the hospital, one of the things we can do is comfort the family members that are there, and give them support and information in a situation that’s very traumatising,” he explains.

“I think the patients, themselves, are very appreciative of the fact that someone cares enough to respond to them in a situation that’s life-threatening and very distressing.”

Catherine Clancy, a member of the local Residents’ Association, said having this service was a definite advantage for those living near the university campus.

“It’s a very positive thing for the community,” she said.

“If there is an emergency in the area, there can be a team from UCC there faster, probably, than a team coming from somewhere outside of the community.”

" Well done to UCC for this wonderful initiative this will certainly save lives.”

Brigid Sinnott, Resus Manager , The Irish Heart Foundation

That opportunity – to perform life-saving skills in a way that actually benefits real people in the community – is deeply appreciated by Andrew and his fellow students at UCC CFR.

“As medical students, we’re very much trained in a hospital environment, and it’s a different situation when you’re delivering care in a patient’s home and the patient is often very vulnerable,” he explained.

“You develop a real appreciation for pre-hospital care and the work that paramedics do, and you get to see that first-hand; it fosters a lot of respect.”

Congratulating the UCC CFR team on their life saving initiative, Brigid Sinnott, Resus Manager with the Irish Heart Foundation said, “In the event of a cardiac arrest time is of the essence, the earlier a person receives CPR and defibrillation the better their chances of surviving a cardiac arrest. Well done to UCC for this wonderful initiative this will certainly save lives.”

In 2019, the Irish Heart Foundation launched a new free community CPR training programme, Hands for Life.

The programme, which is supported by Abbott and ESB Networks, offers free CPR training to people in local communities throughout Ireland.

Hands for Life training courses take place in local community centres, clubs and libraries across Ireland over the next two years.

To sign up today for your free CPR training and learn how to save a life please see here

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Related Topics

bystander CPR cardiac arrest CFR community CPR Hands for Life National Ambulance Service

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