CFR Ireland, the National Community First Responder Network says that the imposition of a levy (of up to 20%), on the personal car insurance of Community First Responders, by some insurers is placing lives at risk.
Community First Responders (CFRs) are civilian responders who are trained to international standards in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, defibrillation and oxygen therapy. They are part of a local CFR scheme, which is linked to the National Ambulance Service.
When the emergency services are alerted to a case of cardiac arrest, chest pain, choking or stroke, a civilian responder from the local CFR scheme is automatically dispatched to the scene along with the ambulance services. Currently there are almost 150 such schemes around the country.
CFRs attend the scene in their own vehicle and must abide by the rules of the road en route to a call. CFRs are required to inform their insurers
Approximately 15 people die from cardiac arrest in Ireland every day. John Fitzgerald, Co-Chair of CFR Ireland said:
“CFR schemes have been in operation with the National Ambulance Service for over 10 years in Ireland and we are not aware of any incidents where there has been a collision involving a CFR en route to a call.”
CFRs volunteer least 12 hours per month in addition to training and fundraising. The additional cost of a car insurance levy discourages people from taking part in this life saving activity. Dr David Menzies, Medical Director of CFR Ireland said:
“It seems very unfair to impose a charge on volunteer activity. CFRs have demonstrated a willingness and ability to perform to the highest standards. They are trained to manage stress and there is no evidence of an increased risk.”
CFR Ireland is actively working with a number of insurers to identify a solution, which will allow CFRs to continue saving lives.
CFR activity is entirely voluntary and CFR Ireland is a registered charity. More information about the network and how to establish a CFR scheme can be found on the website: www.cfr.ie.
Arklow first responder Brian Higgins told Wicklownews.net “People just won’t sign up to responder schemes to be charged over the top insurance rates ..and responders that are on the schemes will leave because it will cost them money which will in fact cost lives and put extra strain on the ambulance service.”