Extra lifesaving support is on hand in the Wigton area thanks to the launch of a new community first responders group.
Volunteer Gareth Barrington has just set up the group which offers an additional response to that of the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS).
First responders are regular members of the community who receive special training to deal with potentially life-threatening situations while an ambulance arrives.
“There are quite a lot of established groups in the area, you’ve got them around Carlisle, Aspatria, Thursby and Caldbeck and Hesket Newmarket. So there are quite a few but the idea is based on response times,” Mr Barrington said.
“When I applied to become a first responder I was told there wasn’t a group in Wigton but I was lucky enough to be able to start one. It was identified there was a need for one.
“Wigton as a town centre is quite urban but there are lots of rural locations too. My response area covers places like Oulton, Blencogo etc.
“An ambulance crew could be just three miles from somewhere as the crow flies, but because of Cumbria’s geography it could take you 18 miles to drive there. Time is really critical and it’s why these groups are important.”
The Wigton group will be able to respond to incidents within a three-mile radius of the town.
There is an ambulance station in Wigton itself but the vehicle could be called out anywhere leaving the town without immediate cover. The other nearest NWAS crews are based in Carlisle, Keswick and Flimby.
“Because of the pressures the ambulance service – as well as others – is under, it was seen as an advantage to start up a group,” Mr Barrington added.
Usually first responders will only attend more serious call-outs, known as red calls, such as people suffering from heart attacks or breathing difficulties.
To contact the Wigton Community First Responders go to their Facebook page or Twitter account.