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Why I signed up to become a community first responder

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Shauna Tate, who is a member of Thetford CFRs

Shauna Tate became a community first responder in August after wanting to give something back after her two-year-old son was treated for sepsis.

Why did you decide to become a CFR?

After spending a period of time in hospital with my son who had sepsis I knew I'd love a job in emergency services, preferably pre-hospital care. Due to my husband’s work commitments and having two young children, having a job with such long variable shifts is not something I can consider right now. Then I found out about the community first responders in my local town and knew the flexibility was perfect for me. 

How did you find the training and what did you learn?

The training was really intense and on the first day I had such a headache and felt really anxious about the whole thing! With the support of my co-ordinator and the CFR trainers the next day I felt a lot more confident. Throughout the week before my assessment I borrowed a training kit and practised at home. It was fantastic meeting others passionate about patient care. 

How easy/ difficult have you found it giving up the time to volunteer?

I go on call when my daughter is at school and my son is with the childminder. It's about four hours a week plus the odd evening and fits in perfectly with my other household chores! I'd like to give up more time to be on call and hope to be able to in the future. 

What was it like attending your first patients?

I was so nervous driving to my first job but the moment I walked in the door I felt calm and my training came into play. It's quite hard seeing a family feel really emotional and scared. I felt like my job was incredibly important as I reassured a little girl when her grandmother was poorly. 

What sort of jobs have you attended so far and has being a CFR what you expected?

So far I've been to jobs that involve reassurance, a suspected brain haemorrhage and a fit. It feels like a huge responsibility initially but after you arrive and the paramedics arrive, everyone works together. 

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of becoming a CFR?

Go for it! Every call is different and even though it feels like a huge amount to worry about, I'd say it's like learning to drive - the real learning comes from being out on the job. There's loads of support available.

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