Community First Responders

Providing vital patient care when every second counts

Community first responders (CFRs) are a team of volunteers who are trained and dispatched by us to help with emergencies in their community before the ambulance arrives. They play a crucial role in providing early patient care throughout the North East, both in rural and urban areas, and are an integral part of our service.

Early intervention

Community First Responders are an integral part of patient care within the Trust. They are volunteers, trained and dispatched by North East Ambulance Service to deal with emergencies prior to the arrival of an ambulance.  They are dispatched at the same time as an ambulance but may arrive first as they are nearer, and can provide early interventions in those crucial first minutes of an emergency. They will deal with a specific list of emergencies, providing care and support to both the patient and their family.

They attend medical emergencies as well as cardiac arrests, where someone’s heart has stopped beating. Responders operate across the whole of the North East in both rural and urban areas, and are a crucial part of the Chain of Survival.

There are three types of Responder within the Trust:

  1. Community First Responders will generally be asked to respond to emergency calls within the area they are logged. They are alerted to the emergency call via the National Mobilisation App (NMA), which uses GPS to track location so you could respond in different areas depending on your location (e.g. work or home).
  2. Co-Responders are from an existing public service (e.g. police, fire, military etc.)  Their training is the same as a Community First Responder.  They are available for emergency calls while carrying out their regular work duties.
  3. Staff Responders work for the Trust in various capacities but also respond in their spare time outside work.   They can also be activated from work in times of high pressure.

Each type of responder has the same aim: to provide immediate care to a patient where every second counts.

Meet some of our community first responders

Dunmail began volunteering as a CFR in Newbrough in 2010 and is now one of the CFRs trained to attend to falls patients.

He said: "It’s really satisfying when somebody is ill and the interventions you provide actually make a difference. It makes you feel appreciated and it gives you confidence in yourself."

Gloria has been a CFR for more than 12 years.

She says: “Knowing you have helped someone, saving their life, speaking a kind word, giving a smile, holding their hand and listening is something that no amount of money can buy, but it can make a whole difference to the person on the receiving end.”

Sue has volunteered in her local community of Middleton in Teesdale for 12 years, having signed up after retiring.

“The difference you can make in the community is huge," she said. "People know what l do and they approach me with problems and I always get thanks from people l have helped."

"I have also gained new confidence, love going into schools and showing people how to use defibs promoting CFRs"

Who might want to be a Community First Responder (CFR)?

  • Adult volunteers from the local community (over 18 years)
  • Volunteers who have a genuine desire to help people in need
  • Volunteers who wish to use their first aid training and skills to make a real difference
  • Volunteers who wish to give some time to an important voluntary organisations

Previous medical knowledge or experience is not essential.

In addition, responders will need to:

  • Be able to commit to the Trust’s Code of Conduct
  • Be willing to undergo stringent recruitment checks including an Occupational Health Assessment, Disclosure and Barring Service check, and provide at least two references
  • Have a full driving licence 
  • Have guaranteed immediate access to a reliable car when on duty which is fully insured, taxed and has an up to date MoT if applicable
  • Have informed their car insurance company of their responder role
  • Be committed to achieving and maintaining a very high standard of first aid
  • Willing and able to commit to attending training on a regular basis
  • Be responsible for the equipment when in their possession
  • Be able to leave their location within minutes when on duty
  • Be able to maintain strict patient confidentiality when responding
  • Personal commitment to respond at least 16 hours per month


  • Kit bag with patient observation medical devices (e.g. blood pressure, pulse oximeter and thermometer)
  • AED
  • Oxygen, OPA, BVM and suction device.
  • PPE 
  • Basic first aid kit

All new CFRs will undertake the nationally accredited Level 3 Certificate in Ambulance Service First Responding.  You will be sent pre-course learning materials, which you will need to study, followed by a five-day course, which will usually take place during the week.  Every year, you will undertake a refresher day to update you.

The course aims to provide you with the knowledge and skills to act on behalf of the Trust, and give you the confidence to be able to attend life threatening emergencies. You will learn how to deliver emergency first aid to a patient before an ambulance crew arrives.

It also covers health and safety requirements, communication skills, infection prevention and control training, and risk assessment to enable you to operate in a safely and in line with Trust policies and procedures.

At the end of the course, you will undertake a written exam followed by practical scenarios.

On no occasion will Community First Responders be driving with blue lights or sirens; nor will they be exempt from any driving laws.

How do you apply to become a CFR?

Vacancies are advertised on the NHS jobs ( and HealthJobsUK ( websites, and will specify the areas we are recruiting for.  If you are not from the area that is advertised, your application will not be progressed.

What is the application process?

Once you have completed and submitted the application form, those applicants for the area specified will be reviewed and shortlisting done.   Shortlisted applicants will then be invited for interview, and those who are successful will then be invited to attend a five-day training course, subject to the necessary occupational health clearance, DBS clearance and satisfactory references.

Want us to let you know when we are recruiting?

If you would like to express an interest in being a responder, please complete the form below, and we will contact you if we are recruiting in your area.

Address, including postcode Required

GoodSAM responders

North East Ambulance Service continues to improve the chances of survival of cardiac arrest in the North East using the GoodSAM app. Click the button below to find out more.

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