A day in the life

CFR Vehicle
My first ever 'red' call by Frank Epstein

It was a couple of years ago and a few days before Christmas and I had still not done my first ever CFR ‘job’.  We live in a semi-rural village and the population density is quite low and therefore the chance of the CFR pager going off is quite low.

The log fire in our cottage was roaring and I was struggling with the Times Sudoku and attempting to watch Top Gear all at the same time.Just before the TV programme finished the Pager went off and I nearly jumped out of my skin.  As I was grabbing my High Viz jacket and ID card the old Nokia phone burst into life and a calm voice from EOC in Bicester (some 60 miles away) asked whether I wouldn’t mind going to a patient who lived in the large park nearby.

So I programmed the TomTom and drove into the pitch dark Park and promptly became lost.  I quickly realised that postcodes were next to useless in this huge park and that there were no road names either.  I picked up the Nokia and telephoned the CFR desk at the EOC and asked her whether the GPS tracking device was working on the CFR pager?

Fortunately, the system was working and she mentioned that I was heading in the wrong direction; so a quick U turn and a brilliant piece of ‘talk down’ guidance from afar and two minutes later I was parked directly outside the property.

I glanced down at the address on the pager to double check that I had arrived at the correct house as I had been trained to expect that the house lights to be left on and the door left ajar or someone would be outside waiting for me.  None of these actions items had been done and then I noticed the initials DIB had been sent to me in the text message.  Crikey I thought – did that really mean Dead In Bed?

‘Big Sick’ or ‘Little Sick’ was ringing in my ears as I was lead upstairs to see the patient.  This was the initial thought process which had been drummed into us during the training course, which I had completed two months earlier.  I found that the paperwork that we are required to complete regarding the patient acted as a helpful template to ask questions and complete the initial medical observations.  After thirty minutes I wondered what I should do next, so I called EOC again and updated her with my thoughts.  She said that an Ambulance from another nearby trust was on its way, though by the look of things they had also become lost in the park!

Finally the crew arrived, listened to my patient handover comments and transported the patient to the nearest A & E.

The next morning, I called a fellow CFR and mentioned the DIB code which had caused me some concern.  She laughed and said oh that means ‘Difficulty in Breathing’!

A day in the life of being a CFR by Cheryl Mathews

It’s Tuesday, raining though warm, typical British summer. I’m heading to work. I’m an accountant and work exactly an hours walk from home though I can’t walk to work today as I’m on CFR duty tonight so need to be home as soon as I can.

I get home around 1755 and start cooking dinner as soon as I get home. Once we’ve eaten, I head upstairs to change into my uniform. I’ve learned through experience to get my car ready, make sure my uniform is on and the kit is in the car before logging on to Emergency Operation Control (EOC) as on some previous shifts, I’ve been sent out immediately.

I book on via the pager, call into EOC to make sure they have me ‘available’ on their screens and do the washing up before I get my first job. “Can you go to a person believed to be fitting? They’re in the street!” Of course I can, I reply. I get the postcode, let my husband know where I’m going and head out. On arrival I see that the rapid response paramedic had beaten me to it, the patient is now in the sleepy stage of post fitting and all is well. I stay with the paramedic in case the patient fits again, although this time he doesn’t and his father arrives on scene to take him home. As the patient is a known fitter, is under review by his specialist and this seizure has followed his normal pattern, the paramedic clears the patient to go home. I’m clear too, so go home for a cuppa

No more calls come that night and I log off around 2200; I have to go to work the next day and I like my sleep! Not all nights are like this. Sometimes I don’t get any jobs, which is fine as I’ve done my ironing or other jobs around the house and its good no-one is poorly. Other evenings, however, I go from job to job to job. No two shifts are the same. I love what I do and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Making a difference by Tamsyn Stanton

I often have free time during the day so I take the Dynamic Response Vehicle (DRV) out 2 or 3 times a week.  It makes a change from logging on from home, and it gives EOC a chance to provide additional cover in local areas.

I frequently get sent slightly further from home to a standby point if another area is particularly busy or doesn’t have any other CFRs logged on.  The jobs are similar regardless, mainly breathing difficulties, strokes, chest pains or fits.  The main difference with the DRV is that I carry Entonox for pain relief, as well as the usual CFR kit, though so far, I’ve never had need of it.  And of course, the vehicle is much more visible to the crews when they come to back me up at a job.

People are incredibly grateful that we volunteer as CFRs and it gives me a great sense of satisfaction to be able to make a difference to patients in those crucial moments before an ambulance arrives.  So much so that I’m considering training as a Technician!