Brightlingsea First Responders – thought to be the first such group in the country – celebrated its 25th year in June.
The group marked the occasion with an event in St James' Church, attended by two of the group's original members, local councillors, town mayor Mick Barry, Deputy Mark Wilby and Clare Ruddy, the community response manager from the East of England Ambulance Service Trust.
Team members Steve Houston, the group's co-ordinator, and Steve Wicks were presented with Queen's Platinum Jubilee Medals, while Josh Cooper, Laura Willett and Kirsty Thornton received commemorative coins. Steve Wicks was also presented with a certificate marking 10 years' service.
Essex was the first county to set up First Responder groups, following an Essex Ambulance Service project, in 1997. Out of the first five groups, Brightlingsea's was the first to go live with the initial aim of getting a defibrilator quickly to someone whose heart had stopped. Now, members of the team – who are all volunteers – are dispatched by the ambulance service, providing emergency treatment to local people until paramedics arrive.
In its first five years, the Brightlingsea team – call sign Zulu One – attended 200 calls. In the 12 months to April 2022 it responded to 522 incidents and provided over 8,000 hours on call. The group has also been instrumental in installing and maintaining several defibrillators around the town.