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Paramedic student hopes to inspire a new generation of volunteers after award win

Date 14.03.2019

A University of Northampton student hopes that an award for her out of hours role as an emergency care volunteer will convince others to join her.

Cathy Goldsmith, who is in the first year of her Foundation course in Paramedic Science, volunteers in her spare time as a Community First Responder (CFR) for the East Midlands Ambulance Service.

During her six-year stint as a CFR, Cathy has clocked up more 4,500 hours responding to 999 emergency calls, performing on-the-spot healthcare including CPR (providing oxygen and chest compressions) and, as part of her team, has saved the lives of several people who had a cardiac arrest.

About her desire to use her spare time to help people, she said: “Our ambulance service is fantastic but they can’t be in several different places at once. I felt it was important I had some knowledge about basic life support if the time came when I needed to use it.

“I heard about the Community First Responders and thought – as I live a bit out of the way – having skills like CPR could be so useful if someone near to me was taken seriously and suddenly ill.”

“I had wanted to be a paramedic for many years and am now on that road with the University, so signing up to be a CFR wasn’t a difficult decision to make. All in all, I’ve put in over 4,000 voluntary hours and have progressed up the levels of CFR competencies.

“Although no CFR steps up to volunteer for personal gain, it is an amazing feeling when you save someone’s life. It’s wonderful to see what that does to them and their families.”

Although Cathy has recently cut back on her CFR duties so she can concentrate on her studies, she has still completed 50 hours of volunteering so far this year: “I’m being a bit more strict with my time as at my time of life, I need to listen that bit more closely, but I’m on top of everything and always make sure that if I have spare time I can do some CFR shifts.”

Her efforts were rewarded this weekend (Saturday 9 March) when she was named ‘Northampton’s 2019 Inspirational Woman of the Year Award’ as part of Northampton Borough Council’s annual International Women’s Day Celebration.

Of her win, Cathy said: “I still don’t think I’ve actually won – it hasn’t quite sunk in and I was shaking as I collected the trophy and certificate! It is a massive honour but I feel very humble about it because I work as part of a team of people who are dedicated to helping when help is needed the most.

“Winning the trophy means more than just putting something lovely on my mantelpiece. I hope the win highlights the CFR role and motivates people to do as I did and sign up for a few hours and be there to help save a life as I have.”

Find out more about Paramedic Science (BSc) at the University of Northampton.

To enquire about becoming a Community First Responder, go to the East Midlands Ambulance Service website.