Community First Responder (CFR) schemes support lay people to respond to medical emergencies, working closely with ambulance services. They operate widely in the UK. There has been no previous review of UK literature on these schemes. This is the first systematic scoping review of UK literature on CFR schemes, which identifies the reasons for becoming a CFR, requirements for training and feedback and confusion between the CFR role and that of ambulance service staff. This study also reveals gaps in the evidence base for CFR schemes.
We conducted a systematic scoping review of the published literature, in the English language from 2000 onwards using specific search terms in six databases. Narrative synthesis was used to analyse article content.
Nine articles remained from the initial search of 15,969 articles after removing duplicates, title and abstract and then full text review.
People were motivated to become CFRs through an altruistic desire to help others. They generally felt rewarded by their work but recognised that the help they provided was limited by their training compared with ambulance staff. There were concerns about the possible emotional impact on CFRs responding to incidents. CFRs felt that better feedback would enhance their learning. Ongoing training and support were viewed as essential to enable CFRs to progress. They perceived that public recognition of the CFR role was low, patients sometimes confusing them with ambulance staff. Relationships with the ambulance service were sometimes ambivalent due to confusion over roles. There was support for local autonomy of CFR schemes but with greater sharing of best practice.
Most studies dated from 2005 and were descriptive rather than analytical. In the UK and Australia CFRs are usually lay volunteers equipped with basic skills for responding to medical emergencies, whereas in the US they include other emergency staff as well as lay people.
Opportunities for future research include exploring experiences and perceptions of patients who have been treated by CFRs and other stakeholders, while also evaluating the effectiveness and costs of CFR schemes.