A recruitment drive is underway to sign up more Community First Responders after thousands in Lancashire registered for the NHS Volunteers Responders scheme to combat the coronavirus crisis.

The drive is being championed by Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson, who is encouraging those who signed up as NHS volunteers to consider becoming North West Ambulance Service Community First Responders.

Mr Stephenson has volunteered as a Community First Responder (CFR) with the North West Ambulance Service since 2014 and has undertaken over 400 hours of volunteers since the virus outbreak began.

Talking about his campaign, Mr Stephenson said: “Community First Responders are volunteers who have been trained in the skills required to attend 999 calls received by the ambulance service, and to provide basic life-saving skills until the ambulance arrives.

“They volunteer within the local community where they live and work. When people suffer from a heart attack, how quickly they get help determines their chances of survival.

“Every minute counts - 30,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest each year but fewer than one in ten survive.

“Often, it comes down to whether someone nearby knows what to do and has the right kit to hand.

“That is why I chose to train as a First Responder and have worked with various local groups and schools to ensure more defibrillators are available.”

The NHS Volunteer Responders programme was developed by NHS England in partnership with the Royal Voluntary Service and facilitated by the Good Sam app.

Volunteers carry out simple, one-off non-medical tasks to support people in England who need help with accessing essentials or who would benefit from a friendly chat to help prevent loneliness.

Becoming a CFR, which does include medical tasks, would require formal training and a longer-term commitment.

Mr Stephenson added: “Thousands of people answered the call to become NHS Volunteer Responders in response to Covid-19 and if only a handful of those decide to undertake training to become Community First Responders it would make a huge difference locally.

“People can apply online or find out more from my office and I would urge people to consider this way of supporting our NHS.”