A FOUR-PAGE LOOK BACK TO A TOWN'S BATTLE TO KEEP AN IMPORTANT SERVICE

A Letter from Nantwich

Written in April 2008 - updated June 2020  

Townspeople 'will not roll over and die . . .'

 

 

 

 

Cllr Bill McGinnis (third left) addresses members of the public at the meeting. Inset below: Gavin Palin, one of the town's First Responders.

LIFE in Nantwich could get perilous for anyone who is involved in an emergency such as a heart attack or a diabetes episode, or who needs pain relief. Unless, that is, campaigners could halt a proposed change in the First Responders service.

   First Responders, as you may know, are the volunteers with full time jobs (the town's four are retained firemen) who race to the scene of an accident or attend to someone who has suffered a heart or insulin problem - or, indeed, any other emergency - before an ambulance can get to the scene. Target time: eight minutes.

 

THESE were the main concerns at a public meeting on the matter in Nantwich Civic Hall on April 12, 2008, sponsored by Nantwich Town Council,

   Those at the meeting were told of an ambulance which took 45 minutes to reach a serious road traffic accident because it was sent out from Wilmslow in North Cheshire where it had been on its last call out.

   Ironically it had to travel past Leighton Hospital to reach the emergency. Of course, the First Responders do not have space in their vehicle (the size of an estate car) to transport patients to hospital - even if they were allowed to do so.

   The problem was that North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) - a quango, apparently, and so not elected by the general public - was standardising its service after the Cheshire trust area was merged with those of Manchester and Lancashire. It had been claimed this would mean the Nantwich paramedics being brought down to the level of other, less trained, volunteers.

   And not just Nantwich, it seemed. First Responders from other Cheshire areas said they would be similarly affected.

  If the changes were introduced, First Responders would not be able to:

ladminister aspirin to anyone suffering a heart attack;

ladminister Hypostop for a diabetic emergency;     

ladminister Entinox for pain relief;

luse a bag valve and mask (as seen on TV) to administer 100% oxygen (a "pocket" version, which I believe is a plastic barrier for First Responders giving "mouth to mouth" resuscitation is going to be used instead);

lattend to children under 14;

lattend to old people suffering, for example, a fall in the street;

lattend road traffic accidents; or

luse their siren and flashing lights on their way to an emergency.

    It seemed that initial training of First Responders would be reduced from 40 days to 28. All First Responders undergo on-going training - but this would obviously be less than previously undertaken.

   With unquestionable logic, Nantwich Town Councillor, Steve Hope, asks "Why don't they (the North West Ambulance Service) say the rest of the region are not up to scratch and bring them up to the

 

South Cheshire level rather than bring South Cheshire down?"

   In view of what was said by other First Responders at the Civic Hall, Cllr Hope would have to widen this comment to include other parts of Cheshire.

   One First Responder said that if the new standards were brought in the medics would leave the service rather than be faced with the task of telling people facing an emergency that they couldn't help them.

   "We do not want to be put in the position where we have people thinking we could have done more for them," said one First Responder at the public meeting.

   The hour-long public meeting was a mix of "evidence" from First Responders and comments from the public - far too much to do justice to it on these webpages.

   A grateful man praised the work of the First Responders who had attended to him when he had had a bad asthma attack.

   One man whose non-attendance was regretted by the audience was John Burnside, NWAS Chief Executive, who cited the closeness of the May 1 elections as a reason for him not getting involved in discussing an issue that could influence public opinion. That didn't go down well at the public meeting.

    The then Town Council Chairman, Cllr Bill McGinnis - who conducted the meeting - said this was a Nantwich problem not a political one and pointed out that there were people and councillors of all political persuasions at the public meeting.

 

ON another front, the Town Council were to call on Mr Burnside to delay any changes until after the County Council's Health Scrutiny committee has had a chance to discuss them on May 1.

   The First Responders were partly sponsored by the Town Council and "is viewed by councillors as a key component in the emergency health services on which townspeople rely," said Cllr McGinnis in his annual council report, adding: "We view this prospect (the change of service) with alarm."

 

  As well as Cllr McGinnis, the platform party comprised:

Gavin Palin, one of the Nantwich First Responders;

County Councillor Mrs Dorothy Flude (Crewe South, attending on behalf of Nantwich MP, Mrs Gwyneth Dunwoody, who had just undergone major heart surgery); [Councillor Flude died in 2020].

Cllr Arthur Moran, a Nantwich County Councillor, a Nantwich Town Councillor, and a Crewe and Nantwich Borough Councilor;

County Councillor Allan Richardson (Cholmondeley), who was also representing Stephen O'Brien, Shadow Minister for Health and MP for Eddisbury), and

Nantwich Town Councillor Keith Cafferty (Vice-Chairman).

 

   Cllr Steve Hope was in charge of a microphone that was passed to members of the public to express their views, and there were other councillors in the audience. All spoke during the meeting.

   If the powers-that-be in the North West Ambulance Service think that the people of Nantwich were going to simply roll over and die, they showed that the NWAS should think again.

Continued>>

"The responder provides care until the Ambulance arrives, usually only a few minutes later"

WHILE there was no reference to the First Responders change of service on the NWAS website there were reports of what local groups were doing.

   But the following was then on the website:

  "Community First Responders are groups of volunteers who live and work in the local community.

  "They are trained and activated by North West Ambulance Service to attend certain emergency calls where time can make the difference between life and death. The responder provides care until the ambulance arrives, usually only a few minutes later.

   "Very often the role they play is one of

 

reassurance. In instances where someone has chest pains, simply giving them oxygen can make a big difference.  In extreme cases they can perform CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) or in extreme cases use the defibrillator to restart someone’s heart.

   "Each volunteer takes it in turn to be ‘on call’.  They carry basic first aid equipment and a simple-to-use Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

   "The Ambulance Service controller sends them to Category A (immediately life threatening) medical calls. They are dispatched at the same time as the ambulance crews but because they are often in more rural areas, can often arrive more quickly than the ambulance."

 Page 2:  Protest march  |   Page 3: The speeches  |  Page 4: Updates  |  Page 5: Updates continued 

 

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