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MAGPAS – Community First Responders

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Back in the June/July issue of the Cottenham Newsletter there was an article about the need for new MAGPAS volunteers.  I think MAGPAS is a very worth while group to say the least.  They provide a buffer between the time you call 999/112 and the ambulance actually turning up.   In some a lot of cases the MAGPAS responder will arrive before the ambulance and get treatment started, then handing over the casualty to ambulance crew or paramedics once they arrive on scene.  So, I decided to sign up for this service.  The process starts with an application and a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) Check. A clean check is required, clearly mine came back clean :), then it was getting booked on the courses..

From the MAGPAS website they say:

Community First Responders are non-medical volunteers who save lives in their local town or village.

Magpas fully trains all Community First Responders and also provides the vital equipment they need to make a difference to patients. We organise our Community First Responders into local groups and currently have 33 such groups across Cambridgeshire. The types of emergencies they attend include choking, cardiac arrests and strokes.

Basically, MAGPAS really limits the range that it’s responders are dispatched to, generally around about 3 miles from home, so really that means in your own village and very very near by areas just outside.  This provides a very quick response time with very little travelling.  This can in some cases mean saving a life or not.  In some places, such as Canada, a lot of the time the fire fighters are fully trained as first responders and can do everything a MAGPAS responder can do, this means when a 911 call is placed a fire crew will roll as well as the ambulance crew.  The obvious disadvantage of this system is the cost of man power and equipment expenses in having to dispatch a fully loaded fire truck with a crew.  However, it can also mean the difference between life and death for the casualty depending on the distance the ambulance crew has to travel.

This weekend (Sep 6/7) I was on the first bit of training under MAGPAS.  This was a modified First Aid course run by St John Ambulance.   The focus of the course is on situations that MAGPAS volunteers are called out for, such as:

  • Fainting
  • Shock
  • Allergic Reactions (Anaphylactic Shock)
  • Seizures
  • Hyperglycaemia / Hypoglycaemia
  • Strokes
  • Asthma Attacks
  • Choking
  • Cardiac Arrest
  • Angina and Heart Attacks

The second part of the training for me will be in early November and will cover the use of portable Defibrillators, insertion of airways  and administering pure Oxygen.  I’m looking forward to that course.  There will also be more emphasis on improving our CPR skills.  Part of this weekends course was having to do 8-9 sets of compressions and rescue breaths, so about 5-6 minutes of non-stop CPR.  It sure does tire you out.  I’m sure in real life there would be a rush of adrenalin that would help to keep you going, but it sure would tire you out if it went on for an extended period of time.  Currently, we aren’t called out for such things as traffic accidents, trauma cases, severe bleeding cases or calls involving children under the age of 8.  These are only attended by the normal ambulance service and MAGPAS doctors and paramedics (Medic250 as they are called).

All things being well, I should be on the local rota late November or early December and starting to respond to call-outs.

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