North Arran CFRs celebrate 20th year of life-saving work

Picture of founding members of North Arran Community First Responders

The North Arran Community First Responders today (June 9) celebrated its 20th year of providing invaluable, life-saving support for the community.

Community First Responders (CFRs) are volunteers who are trained by the Scottish Ambulance Service to attend certain types of emergency calls in the area where they live or work. There are currently around 1000 active across Scotland.

The North Arran group, which covers the villages of Pirnmill, Catacol and Lochranza, currently has six volunteers, including its three founding members, Fiona Laing, Stuart Blake, and Chris Traill. The group provides around 600 hours of cover a month and since forming have had 30 CFRs.

Fiona said: “The 20th anniversary of the North Arran First Responders is an occasion of which I am extremely proud. The commitment of all the responders over the years has been immense and I'd like to thank them all for their efforts.

“I'd also like to thank all the SAS staff past and present who have supported the group. It hasn't always been easy and there have been many challenges, so particular thanks to the local paramedics who have encouraged us throughout the years to keep going.”

Speaking of its origins, Fiona said the group started after Arran paramedic Jeff Dawson managed to source some defibrillators in January 2003.

She added: “He was keen to use to set up some first responders on the island which at that time was a relatively new concept for the Scottish Ambulance Service.”

After an appeal for volunteers, 11 people living in the North of the island - between Pirnmill and Lochranza - came forward and in the March of that year formed the North Arran First Responders Association, which was chaired by Fiona.

She added: “Once the groundwork had been done, a training course was set for May, which was at the time a 16 hour course covering basic life support and use of a defibrillator; Oxygen came a few years later.”

At one minute after midnight on June 9 2003, the responders booked on call. Throughout the next 17 years, the group carried on operating 24/7 until the group paused due to the Covid pandemic in March 2020. It reactivated in November 2020 and continues to serve the North Arran community.

SAS Chief Operating Officer Paul Bassett said: “Huge congratulations to the North Arran Community First Responders on this amazing milestone. Our co-responders play a vital role in supporting the Scottish Ambulance Service in reaching our most critical patients in rural areas, and we are thankful to each and every one of them.”


Posted on 09/06/2023