Rural ambulance response improves

AMBULANCE response times in the most rural parts of Suffolk are today on the up thanks to the introduction of Community Paramedics and teams of trained medical responders.

AMBULANCE response times in the most rural parts of Suffolk are today on the up thanks to the introduction of Community Paramedics and teams of trained medical responders.

Increasing numbers of Community Paramedics (CPs) are being placed in rural GPs' surgeries across the county, ensuring a trained paramedic can be on the scene fast.

A large part of their role is also the training of community responders - teams of ordinary members of the public who are taught to treat conditions such as cardiac arrests, choking and drowning.

In Needham Market, the scheme has already seen drastic improvements in response times.


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Community paramedic Maggie Cook took up a new post there last year and the response to life-threatening emergency calls has increased dramatically.

Last year the Evening Star revealed how in some cases less than 50 per cent of patients with potentially life-threatening conditions were being reached within the eight-minute response time target.

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However in the year ending March 2005 this has now increased to 76pc.

Paul Henry, associate director of emergency services for the East Anglian Ambulance Service, said: "We operate in the most rural area of England, and to provide fully crewed ambulances to cover every village in our patch would probably quadruple our funding.

"We recognise that's just not possible and placing paramedics in those communities, with the skills to train others to carry out basic life support, has really made a difference."

New schemes are currently planned for Claydon, Elmswell, Wattisham, Somersham and Thurston, while the latest to go live was Stowmarket last week.

Sandra Burdett, community paramedic coordinator, said: "If you have a cardiac arrest you want someone there with a defibrillator within minutes - the quicker the better - so the more people we have trained to deliver this care the better."

Have you benefited from the work of a Community Paramedic? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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