AN emergency-response charity covering Solihull has issued an urgent call for donations with income reduced to ‘almost zero’ – despite its vital services in the COVID-19 pandemic.
FastAid, which operates a team of volunteers across Solihull and Birmingham – Community First Responders (CFRs) – says it will struggle to continue its life-saving services unless it can raise the funds needed to run and insure its response cars, and maintain vital life-saving equipment.
Each of its six cars carries equipment such as a portable patient monitor with ECG readings, an advanced defibrillator, adult and paediatric resuscitation equipment, oxygen, airway suction devices, neck collars, major trauma and burns dressings, and helmets – even smoke escape hoods and sterile water for use after an acid attack.
Despatched to 999 emergency calls by West Midlands Ambulance Service when they are the closest resource, CFRs throughout the West Midlands will often be first to reach emergency scenes.
They then start lifesaving treatment, begin clinical care and provide reassurance to patient and relatives before an ambulance arrives. Time saved can be critical.
Last month alone, at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak, the FastAid team says it provided more than 500 hours ready to respond to ambulance emergencies.
Terry Flower, a CFR and area coordinator, and himself a survivor of coronavirus, said: “In March, having worked alongside West Midlands Ambulance Service as a volunteer for over ten years, I found myself in need of an ambulance.
“I was lucky – I beat the virus – but my experiences have made me more determined than ever to ensure people across the West Midlands benefit from the services of CFRs when they need them, helping our ambulance service to save lives.”
“At this time of year, we would normally be working with community groups, providing first aid cover at local events, and in turn receiving donations. Due to the pandemic, this has completely stopped.
“We receive no external funding and need the public’s help to continue our life-saving work.
“Only this week we received this message of support.
“You don’t shout much about what you do and I guess a lot of people don’t know you exist until the day you turn up to save their life’.”
In a typical year, FastAid members give over 10,000 hours of voluntary service and attend around 1,500 emergencies, the service says. They are first to arrive in 90 per cent of 999 calls.
Among the FastAid members are a doctor, three nurses and three paramedics, as well as highly trained volunteers from all backgrounds and ages.
As well as supporting community groups locally, FastAid responders also take care of defibrillators which are in public places, and deliver free training in life-saving skills.
In 2016, FastAid was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the MBE for voluntary groups.
To donate, visit https://www.totalgiving.co.uk/donate/fastaid
or contact [email protected]