Perceptions and experiences of community first responders on their role and relationships: qualitative interview study

Phung, Viet-Hai and Trueman, Ian and Togher, Fiona and Orner, Roderick and Siriwardena, Niro (2018) Perceptions and experiences of community first responders on their role and relationships: qualitative interview study. Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine, 26 (13). pp. 1-10. ISSN 1757-7241

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13049-018-0482-5

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Abstract

Abstract
Background: Community First Responders (CFRs) are lay volunteers who respond to medical emergencies. We
aimed to explore perceptions and experiences of CFRs in one scheme about their role.
Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of CFRs during June and July 2016 in
a predominantly rural UK county. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using the Framework method,
supported by NVivo 10.
Results: We interviewed four female and 12 male adult CFRs aged 18–65+ years with different levels of expertise
and tenures. Five main themes were identified: motivation and ongoing commitment; learning to be a CFR; the
reality of being a CFR; relationships with statutory ambulance services and the public; and the way forward for CFRs
and the scheme. Participants became CFRs mainly for altruistic reasons, to help others and put something back into
their community, which contributed to personal satisfaction and helped maintain their involvement over time. CFRs
valued scenario-based training and while some were keen to access additional training to enable them to attend a
greater variety of incidents, others stressed the importance of maintaining existing abilities and improving their
communication skills. They were often first on scene, which they recognised could take an emotional toll but for
which they found informal support mechanisms helpful. Participants felt a lack of public recognition and
sometimes were undervalued by ambulance staff, which they thought arose from a lack of clarity over their
purpose and responsibilities. Although CFRs perceived their role to be changing, some were fearful of extending
the scope of their responsibilities. They welcomed support for volunteers, greater publicity and help with
fundraising to enable schemes to remain charities, while complementing the role of ambulance services.
Discussion: CFR schemes should consider the varying training, development and support needs of staff. CFRs
wanted schemes to be complementary but distinct from ambulance services. Further information on outcomes and
costs of the CFR contribution to prehospital care is needed.
Conclusion: Our findings provide insight into the experiences of CFRs, which can inform how the role might be better
supported. Because CFR schemes are voluntary and serve defined localities, decisions about levels of training, priority
areas and targets should be locally driven. Further research is required on the effectiveness, outcomes, and costs of CFR schemes and a wider understanding of stakeholder perceptions of CFR and CFR schemes is also needed.

Keywords:First responders, Prehospital care, Urgent care, Ambulance care, volunteers
Subjects:B Subjects allied to Medicine > B990 Subjects Allied to Medicine not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Health & Social Care
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ID Code:31062
Deposited On:26 Feb 2018 11:02

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