We used a retrospective observational design analyzing routine data from electronic clinical records from 6 of 10 ambulance services in the United Kingdom during 2019. Descriptive statistics, including numbers and frequencies, were used to illustrate characteristics of incidents and patients that the community first responders attended first in both rural and urban areas.
The data included 4.5 million incidents during 1 year. The community first responders first attended a higher proportion of calls in rural areas compared with those in urban areas (3.90% versus 1.48 %). In rural areas, the community first responders also first attended a higher percentage of the most urgent call categories, 1 and 2. The community first responders first attended more than 9% of the total number of category 1 calls and almost 5% of category 2 calls. The community first responders also attended a higher percentage of the total number of cardiorespiratory and neurological/endocrine conditions. They first attended 6.5% of the total number of neurological/endocrine conditions and 5.9% of the total number of cardiorespiratory conditions. Regarding arrival times in rural areas, the community first responders attended higher percentages (more than 6%) of the total number of calls that had arrival times of less than 7 minutes or more than 60 minutes.
In the United Kingdom, community first responders contribute to the delivery of emergency medical services, particularly in rural areas and especially for more urgent calls. The work of community first responders has expanded from their original purpose-to attend to out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. The future development of community first responders' schemes should prioritize training for a range of conditions, and further research is needed to explore the contribution and potential future role of the community first responders from the perspective of service users, community first responders' schemes, ambulance services, and commissioners.
We aimed to investigate community first responders' contribution to emergency care provision in terms of number, rate, type, and location of calls and characteristics of patients attended.