SAVING someone’s life is a position of privilege according to Pickering First Responder Sarah Herbert.

Sarah, who works as a dentist under her maiden name at Glover & Taylor, has been a member of the town’s life-saving team for five years.

“Personal circumstances encouraged me to join,” Sarah said. “I’d experienced people collapsing in the family home and wanted to be able to give something back to the ambulance service which had helped.”

As a dentist, Sarah had basic life support skills but she had to undergo training with the ambulance service before becoming a First Responder.

“The training is very straight forward and anyone can do it,” she said. “It usually involves a full day then three or four evenings – about 16 hours in total.”

Sarah, 37, who has a son aged 11 and a daughter, eight, fits her volunteering around her work and family life with the help of her husband.

When a 999 call is made, the control centre will despatch an ambulance and also pages the First Responder who is on duty.

“An ambulance is always going to come as well, as it is needed to get the person to hospital,” Sarah said. “But if the Malton ambulance is out on a call, an ambulance has to come from Kirkbymoorside, Scarborough, York or Bridlington, which is going to take time.

“When someone has a heart attack, the key to success is early defibrillation and CPR and a First Responder aims to be there in less than eight minutes.”

Sarah said that every member of the Pickering team lives or works within a five-mile radius of the town.

“As the team co-ordinator, I ask the team every week what hours they can do and set up a weekly rota. We have people of all ages and backgrounds and some can only do four hours a week whereas I do night shifts to fit in with work.”

Sarah added that anyone could become a First Responder all that is required is a full driving licence, to be physically fit and over 18.

“Last year we attended 380 calls in Pickering – these included people suffering from epilepsy, diabetic comas and even indigestion when someone thought they were having a heart attack.

“It is always reassuring for these people that we are there in minutes and it also helps the relatives as we tend to reassure them once the ambulance crew arrives.”

Sarah added that the First Responders played a vital role in supporting the ambulance service and medical staff.

“The more team members we have, the more chance everyone has of surviving in an emergency.

“Someone once asked me if I minded that we don’t get paid but there is nothing more rewarding than having the opportunity to save someone’s life – it is the most special thing ever and money can’t buy that.”

Anyone who would like to find out more about becoming a First Responder or would like to join the Pickering team should phone Sarah on 01751 474174 or 07952 408757.