3 January 2018

Our Volunteers

All our volunteers are medical students currently studying at the University of Leeds, and volunteer to respond to calls in their free time. Here we chat to some of our volunteers, and find out what it’s like for them as medical students to be a Community First Responder.



Sam – CFR Since 2016

Sam Elcock

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m currently a 4th Year Medical Student at the University of Leeds, and when I’m not on placement or CFR’ing, I run St John Ambulance for Leeds Uni and am also the Officers’ Training Corps. I’ve also just started bell-ringing on a Monday too!

How did you first find out about becoming a Medical Student Community First Responder?

I got involved in the scheme back when it first started – I’d always had an interest in pre-hospital care and emergency medicine, and heard about the new scheme through James. I knew about CFRs and their role through SJA, but had never been able to get involved as I didn’t drive. But as soon as I found out about being able to do it as a passenger, I was really keen to get involved. I’ve just passed my driving test too, so am hoping to start to be able to go out and drive myself now which will be interesting!

What kind of calls have you been to?

My first call I went to came through to the phone as ‘unresponsive – not breathing’, and at that point you fear the worst. Especially as just a second year medical student, who hadn’t really encountered anything like this before, it was quite hard hitting. However, the support amongst your fellow CFRs and also the staff at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service is really beneficial. Responding in pairs is especially helpful in scenarios like this, as sometimes just being able to hold the hand of a relative is the most important and useful thing you can do.

I’ve also been to lots of ‘difficulty breathing’ calls, many of which are acute exacerbations of COPD. It’s times like this where our recent pulse-oximetry training can make a real difference, as we can titrate the oxygen we have to the patients needs.

What do you do whilst you’re on shift, but are waiting for a call?

I really love baking, so tend to do a lot of that! Sometimes you have to be careful about when you put things in the oven though, as when the phone rings, you don’t know how long you’re going to be out on scene for! Thankfully no cakes have burnt yet….

Do you think being a Community First Responder helps with your Medical School training?

Absolutely! We do a lot of simulated acute patient training as part of our medical training, but I remember going to my first heart attack and realising that no sim-man or dummy can replicate the real thing. Also, being able to be first on scene to a patient in their living room suffering a heart attack, and then being able to follow them to hospital and watch their coronary arteries get stented in the cath-lab, is an experience that not many people get to get, and is absolutely invaluable, as well as being very rewarding.


Oli – CFR Since 2016

Oli Sims

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m currently a 3rd year Medical Student originally from North West London. When I’m not CFR’ing, I play golf, enjoy cooking and like a good coffee (especially if I’m doing a long CFR shift!). I’m not sure what kind of medicine I want to go into quite yet; so far have really enjoyed anaesthetics and critical care, but there’s still a lot more to see so I’m not ruling anything out!

Have you enjoyed being a Community First Responder?

Yes, it’s definitely had it’s ups and it’s downs; some jobs have been very difficult to deal with, but it’s very varied and interesting. It’s very good to be able to get experience taking a history, and building a rapport with patients in a very short space of time, and then giving a detailed handover to the paramedics is useful for life on the wards.

What piece of advice would you give to a new CFR?

Don’t expect to go to a cardiac arrest immediately – there’s lots of different jobs we can be sent to, and not all are as action packed as others, but be patient and eventually and more serious jobs will crop up.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? Still CFRing?

Potentially still being a CFR, but it all depends on how life in the NHS pans out, and where I end up. I hope eventually to end up back down near London, but that’s an awfully long way down the line.

Favourite food?

It’s got to be my Grandma’s chicken soup.