PORT Talbot’s busiest retail centre now has a six-strong team of Community First Responders providing all-day assistance for shoppers who have a medical emergency.
The Aberafan Shopping Centre will now have 9.00am-5.00pm cover, Monday to Saturday, from a team of Welsh Ambulance Service Community First Responders (CFRs) who also happen to work there.
CFRs are volunteers who attend 999 calls in their community and administer first aid in the precious first minutes before an ambulance arrives.
They are trained by the Welsh Ambulance Service to administer first aid, including oxygen therapy and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, as well as the use of a defibrillator.
Centre Manager and CFR Co-ordinator, Chris Morgan MBE, said: “I have four staff working here as security on the shop floor and one, Sian, who is an area manager for the company and here two or three days a week.
“If there’s a time of need, they transform into a CFR.
“Even with different shifts there will always be three of us on duty.
“This team has been together since 2016 and have attended many incidents in and around the centre, including a number of successful resuscitations.”
The Welsh Ambulance Service provides the CFRs with a communication system which allows 999 operators to immediately contact them, a dedicated response area around the shopping centre and recently new green uniforms.
Chris added: “The Welsh Ambulance Service has been great to us and really invested with providing all the training and new personal protective equipment we need to work safely.”
Praising his team of staff and CFR volunteers, Chris said: “To manage a team like this is a privilege.
“It’s an honour to work with people who go above and beyond the call of duty.”
Chris, 47, from Briton Ferry, who was formerly in the Royal Navy, set up the Aberafan CFR team in 2004, and in 2010 was awarded an MBE for services to the community.
Glyn Thomas the Trust’s Interim Alternative Responder Manager, expressed his sincere gratitude to the Aberafan team, and other schemes like them: “When a time critical medical emergency occurs within the community, we know that a prompt response can often make the difference between life and death.
“Aberafan Shopping Centre, like so many other schemes across Wales, make a huge difference to our communities day in-day out.
“We have had multiple incidents within the shopping centre and the surrounding area, where Chris and his team have provided CPR to a non-breathing patient, until the ambulance arrived, and have played a crucial part in the successful resuscitation of a number of these incidents.
“Our volunteers have been trained to deal with an array of medical problems including non-injured fallers.
“Chris and his team should be congratulated on the continued and inspiring support that they provide, not only to the Welsh Ambulance Service, but more importantly – to their communities.”