A NEW co-responder vehicle bought with the help of donations from the local community has been unveiled at Cardigan Fire and Rescue Station.

The co-responder project is a partnership between Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MAWWFRS) and the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust (WAST), where fire service personnel help the Trust by providing life support in isolated rural locations, until the arrival of the ambulance service.

Fire crews are highly trained in trauma and emergency care and equipped with co-responder vehicles that carry equipment such as oxygen and automatic external defibrillation.

Cardigan Station watch manager John Mitchell said: "I would like to thank the local community, on behalf of the watch at Cardigan Station, for the fantastic donation of £17,300 which has been raised through public donations and various fund-raising events, such as a sponsored cycle ride from Cardigan to Aberystwyth and back!

“Our medical response team is trained to a very high standard and turn out to between 200 and 300 calls a year, many of which are life-threatening, before handing the incidents over to the paramedics.”

A blessing ceremony, conducted by Cannon Illtyd Protheroe, chaplain to the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, took place on Tuesday April 18.

Group manager Adrian Smith, head of Ceredigion County Command said: “This vehicle is an invaluable asset to the community, with its 4x4 capability, room for patient transfer in an emergency, reliability, high visibility and audible safety factors. We are proud to support the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust through the co-responder partnership.”

Temporary area manager Steve Bryant added: “Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service is grateful to the community of Cardigan and the surrounding area for their support and generosity to purchase a new co-responder vehicle for its local Fire Station.

“The blessing ceremony highlights the importance placed on providing a first-class medical response to the community.

“We recognise the importance of working in partnership with our fellow emergency services within our primary aim to protect our communities. Throughout mid and west Wales, the central placement of fire stations within our communities often means that we can get to the scene first and respond to casualties with medical conditions, such as cardiac arrest.

“Primary responsibility for responding to medical emergencies lies with the ambulance service. These initiatives in no way replace these services, but rather enhance them in a practical way by making good use of medically trained and suitably equipped firefighters, who are often closer to the scene of an incident than ambulance crews."

The new vehicle was handed over by the Mayor of Cardigan, Cllr Clive Davies, who said: “This is a great asset for the town and surrounding area. It’s great that half the money was raised by the local community and it shows how important it is to everyone.”

For many years, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service and the Welsh Ambulance Service have been involved in a joint co-responding scheme, that aims to provide the earliest possible response to life-threatening medical emergencies.

The first co-responder scheme was introduced in 1998 at Reynoldston Fire Station. Following its success, 18 further locations across mid and west Wales have become co-responder stations with at least a further six stations due to join this year.

Since the introduction of the scheme in 1998, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service has attended 22,297 medical emergencies.

The success of the Co Responder scheme has promoted a further initiative whereby Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service is equipping all front line fire appliances with automatic defibrillators. Working with the charity Cariad, 78 appliances now have defibrillators on board.