A DEDICATED team of 32 volunteers are hitting the roads across North Wales assisting the Welsh Ambulance Service in dealing with fallers.
Based out of the Ambulance headquarters in St Asaph, the Community First Responder Falls Team was launched on 30 April this year and has already assisted almost 250 people.
The team was created to use the talents and experience of the familiar Community First Responders (CFRs) who had to be stood down from their normal duties at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Providing a two-person response 24 hours a day, the team are mobilised when a call to 999 is recognised as suitable by a clinician in the contact centre.
The team then head to the patient’s address and help them back up, whilst also carrying out a risk assessment of the home, offering advice on safety measures and referral pathways.
Jason Williams is the First Responder Officer for North Wales and heads up the team.
He said: “Here in North Wales the average attendance lasts around one hour, so these skilled volunteers are freeing up so much time for emergency response crews.
“We have managed to keep an impressive 97% of our patients in their own homes.
“I am hugely proud of the Falls Team and it’s a real privilege to assist them in providing this service. They are so passionate about what they do.”
Helping to mobilise the Falls Team were automotive engineering firm
MS-RT from Pontypool, South Wales, who kindly donated a van to the Welsh Ambulance Service.
Incidentally, the Ford Transit van was formerly used by world champion mountain biker Danny Hart so was ideally kitted out with a rear canopy, essential for donning personal protective equipment in bad weather and enough secure storage to carry all the equipment needed in a fall recovery procedure.
Joe Pace, Commercial Director of MS-RT, said: “We are proud to be working with the Welsh Ambulance Service in helping to provide this vital falls service to the people of Wales.
“We were able to provide a vehicle that suited the needs of the crews and the specialist lifting equipment required.
“Keeping people in their homes and medical teams on the road is vital during this pandemic and we are delighted we were able to help.”
Lee Brooks is the Trust’s Director of Operations “
He said: “When Covid-19 hit the UK, we were forced to make a difficult decision for the safety of our CFRs and halt their usual roles.
“With a strong desire to continue to support local communities, our response to the pandemic and our falls management framework, the CFR team saw an opportunity which got support.
“This has been tremendously successful already and is testament to the compassion and skill of our CFR team and their management.
“I would personally like to thank the whole team and wish them continued success in the future.”
The team are fully trained in the use of specialist lifting equipment such as the Mangar Camel inflatable chair and the Mangar Elk inflatable cushion to help ease patients off the ground.
Another useful facet of the team’s work is the ability to offer bespoke advice to patients which will help prevent future falls.
Jason explains: “We had been called to an elderly patient several times and through our dialogue with them found each of their falls were down to dropping their glasses or searching for their glasses.
“We were able to assess this and provide a simple spectacle chord for them to wear their glasses around their neck when not in use, preventing another fall.”
The team are also trained to identify vulnerable patients and those living with dementia.