RETIRED residents of a tiny village have become lifesavers on call around the clock to help their ageing community in emergencies.
Nine villagers from Upton — all over 60 — have undertaken South Central Ambulance Service training as community first responders.
The volunteers are trained to respond to life-threatening emergencies — including heart attacks and cardiac arrests — in the village before an ambulance arrives.
Their training can help to save the lives of anyone above the age of two.
Seventy-year-old responder Mike Brown, who is also chairman of the parish council, said it was good that senior residents were trained to help each other.
He said: “It was a parishioner who made me aware of the scheme and I have taken it up and managed to get the villagers together. It seemed a good idea for this village. We have quite a high proportion of retired people. All nine of us are retired people.
“We are all retired and have a lot of retired age friends and neighbours. It could be one of them or us who needs the help.
“But this service is not exclusive to retired people. We are allowed to treat children as young as two.
“We hope other villages in the area will follow our lead.”
Volunteers are alerted by the ambulance service and can be on the scene of an emergency within about five minutes with £1,600 worth of equipment — including a mobile phone, defibrillator, oxygen bottle and masks.
They take it in turns to be on call and can also attend incidents at Blewbury and West Hagbourne during the day.
Retired consultant engineer Mike Weston, 60, of Fieldside, Upton, is also a responder and said: “I haven’t had any calls yet. It’s a good life skill and it’s an opportunity to give something back to the community.”
There are almost 350 responders in more than 60 teams in Oxfordshire.
Dick Tracey, responder manager for Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, said responders could offer vital assistance for people suffering heart attacks, cardiac arrests, severe breathing problems, haemorrhaging and epilepsy.
He said: “Upton is one of the highest ratios of people to responders we have got and it’s my aim to double the number of volunteers over the next year.
“What’s great about Upton is that they came to us and said we want this in our village.
“I think it’s brilliant, it’s more senior people helping more senior people primarily.”
Further information about community first responders in Oxfordshire is available from Dick Tracey, who can be contacted by phone on 07967 017169.