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"Helping people in their time of crisis is incredibly rewarding”

Date: 31 March 2021

Alan Cartz

A community first responder (CFR) who has helped more than 500 patients while volunteering with the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) has spoken of the enjoyment he takes from his role while encouraging others to consider following his lead.


Alan Cartz, who is based in Watford, began volunteering with the service in 2017 and attended his 500th patient in mid-March. During that time, he has helped with everything from cardiac arrests to seizures, as well as supporting people with breathing difficulties and injuries.


“I really enjoy working as a CFR – it’s great,” said Alan, who also volunteers with St John Ambulance and spent 40 years as a special with the police. “I find being able to help people in their time of crisis incredibly rewarding, and also enjoy the variety involved – we do everything from offering reassurance to performing CPR and saving lives.


“I remember my very first call for EEAST, which was to a man who had been injured when a brick wall fell on him. I now do two or three days a week for the Trust, and three times out of five I will be the first on scene, arriving before the ambulance crew. That can be both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time, as you are never quite sure what you will be facing.”


Community first responders are volunteers who are trained to attend certain types of emergency calls in the area where they live or work. Their aim is to reach a potential life-threatening emergency in the first vital minutes before the ambulance crew arrives.


“The crews are always incredibly appreciative when they arrive on scene, even if you’ve just taken observations and passed them on,” added Alan. “We also receive good feedback from patients and their families, as we are able to put a figurative arm round their shoulders during their darkest moment and help them to understand what is happening.


“I decided to become a CFR as I enjoy doing things for others and have been interested in medicine ever since getting my first aid certificate when I was 11. I would absolutely recommend it to others – all you need is to be caring, have some free time and be able to stay calm under pressure. You’ll be given all of the medical training you need and there will always be someone on the end of a phone ready to help if you need advice.”


Tom Barker, EEAST’s Community Response Manager for Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and West Essex, said: “Our CFRs play an incredibly important role, often reaching patients first and providing life-saving care before our crews arrive.


“To attend to 500 patients in fewer than five years is a fantastic achievement and our congratulations go to Alan. He truly is a credit to the Trust.”


For more information about joining EEAST as a CFR visit here or email CFR@eastamb.nhs.uk 


  • Summary:

    A community first responder (CFR) who has helped more than 500 patients while volunteering with the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) has spoken of the enjoyment he takes from his role while encouraging others to consider following his lead.