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Keswick’s volunteer 999 lifesavers reach into more remote areas

Some Keswick and District Community First Responders with their new pagers L-R: David Quainton, Chris Guy (Treasurer), Barbara Petecki and Rick Petecki

A team of 999 lifesavers is now able to cover mobile phone blackspot areas near Keswick after winning a grant for new communications tech.

The new kit means Keswick and District Community First Responders, who are attached to North West Ambulance Service, can give life-saving treatment to a greater number of critically-ill people in the vital moments before an ambulance arrives.

The £5,000 Cumbria Community Foundation grant, awarded from a fund set up by water firm United Utilities, paid for the new pagers so that volunteers can cease relying on text messages using the patchy mobile phone coverage of the Lake District.

Treasurer Chris Guy, who lives in Keswick, said even volunteers in the remotest areas were now receiving alerts which could help them save the lives of people in their communities.

“Anyone can have a medical emergency, and in our rural area the nearest Accident and Emergency Departments are in hospitals at least a 45 minute drive from Keswick town.  There is only one ambulance based in Keswick, and if that has taken a patient to hospital in Carlisle or Whitehaven, it is off the scene for a minimum of three hours.  If a 999 call is made in this period, the nearest available ambulance is deployed.  However, this may have to travel from Penrith, Distington, Carlisle or even the South Lakes.  First Responders are vital in filling the gap before the ambulance arrives.

“With this funding we have the assurance of having all our First Responders being equipped to answer calls so ensuring comprehensive coverage of our area.  Now we can accept new recruits regardless of their ability to reliably receive texts at home.”

Keswick and District Community First Responders are just one of dozens of community and woodlands projects to have benefited from United Utilities’ £1m legacy fund, which was set up 18 months ago to support areas affected by construction work on a major new water supply project.

Although applications for community grants via Cumbria Community Foundation have now closed, funding for woodlands projects is still available via Cumbria Woodlands.

Stakeholder manager Ian McCoy said: “People in Cumbria are doing some amazing things for the communities they live in and we’re very happy to have been able to help provide funding by investing in the groups and projects closest to their hearts. Keswick Community First Responders are one of them. Hopefully, with their new communications equipment, these local heroes will be at the side of even more people when they need them most.”

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