Cool head in a crisis? Join town’s emergency response

A dedicated duo of health-workers launched an emergency response service in Hastings this week with an appeal for volunteers.

Married couple Brian and Fay Rockell, of Ochiltree Road, have set up a new branch of the popular national service, Community First Responders (CFRs).

The scheme trains community volunteers to be first on hand to local medical emergencies, often beating the ambulance and providing life-saving basic healthcare. Hastings has long been one of very few towns in the country without this service.

Brian said: “It’s exciting for Hastings. This will engage volunteers in their own community, and will save lives in those communities. There’s no higher cause than that.”

Brian, 65, launched a CFR pilot scheme in Hastings last autumn concentrating on Hastings town centre and a three mile radius. At the time, he and his wife Fay, 45, were the only two volunteers. The pair have already been first on the scene to dozens of emergencies.

Now, as the full programme is confirmed, three further volunteers are training but more are needed. Brian needs fifteen to make sure Hastings is completely covered by cool-headed responders who will be there in a crisis.

“We think we can make a very big difference to the community of Hastings,” said Brian. “This scheme has been proven to save lives, and our aim is to cover the whole of the 1066 area 24/7.”

Community heroes who volunteer will get five days training (spread over three weekends). After that, a minimum commitment of four hours a week is needed, though Brian, a former UK director for St John’s Ambulance and currently a Sussex Public Governor for South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) stressed this is time that can be used for other things too - CFRs are essentially on call, but are not required to go to an office or otherwise disrupt their lives.

Volunteers “clock in” via the internet, and if an emergency happens, they get a text message or phone call, sent at the same time as the call to the nearest ambulance crew. CFRs can then speed off in their own cars, armed with equipment provided by Brian’s organisation.

For information email:, or call 07510 102390.