Cardiac First Responder Groups

Are you a Cardiac First Responder? Would you like to be?

A Cardiac First Responder (CFR) is a person trained to a minimum level of basic life support in CPR and the use of an AED/defibrillator, who attends an actual or potentially life threatening emergency such as a cardiac arrest, heart attack, stroke or choking.

Rural areas and ambulance response times

In rural areas around Ireland an ambulance may need to travel a long distance to assist someone suffering from a cardiac or respiratory arrest, ineffective breathing or choking. In such instances  time is crucial, that is why the HSE National Ambulance Service is integrating groups of CFRs in rural areas who are dispatched simultaneously with the National Ambulance Service.

This does not delay the ambulance which is still dispatched as a priority. Because these responders live or work locally, they may be able to arrive and start lifesaving steps until the ambulance arrives.

How to establish a CFR Group in your community

Community or other groups interested in establishing a CFR Group and who wish to be linked to the National Ambulance Service should make contact directly with the HSE National Ambulance Service via email

The Irish Heart Foundation does not link groups to the National Ambulance Service but can provide information and support to groups who wish to set up a CFR programme. The Irish Heart Foundation also works with the National Ambulance Service to provide instructor training for linked groups so they can do ongoing CPR training in their community. A CFR group can find out more information and link to other groups through the CFR Ireland network , a coordinated organisation for CFR Groups.

You can also find more information about CFR groups in become a CFR website.

The Support Available to CFR Schemes

The HSE National Ambulance Service will generally provide the following supports to CFR Schemes that integrate with the National Ambulance Service:

How you might feel after an emergency call, and how to cope

Responding to an emergency event where someone does not survive can be difficult for anyone to cope with. It is important to be aware of ‘Critical Incident Stress’ which can occur following a crisis response such as attending someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest. It is common and very normal to experience both physical and/or psychological symptoms following such an experience. A ‘debrief’ discussion among a CFR group with the help of the medical supervisor, talking to others who were present during the incident, or discussing the event with close family and friends can help.

How to seek further help and recovery

Although symptoms will generally dissipate in time, sometimes an event can cause a significant stress reaction. If behavioural signs and symptoms do not diminish over time, it is important that the person is encouraged to seek support or help and should contact their GP. The Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) has developed an online Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Stress Awareness Training course which can be accessed online.


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