IT’S comforting to know that there is a band of unsung heroes called volunteer community first responders who are ready to spring into action when there is a medical emergency.

Liaising with South Central Ambulance Service, their efforts are particularly welcome in rural parts of Oxfordshire where they are often able to arrive before paramedics.

By arriving at the scene of a cardiac arrest call at the earliest opportunity, their lifesaving techniques can sometimes make the difference between life and death, and give the patient a better chance of making a full recovery.

So it’s welcome news that a recruitment drive is on to sign up more volunteer responders because their expertise will make southern Oxfordshire and other parts of the South Central region a safer place to live.

But, as ever with stories about the health service, there are funding issues and volunteer responders should not be used as statistics to be taken into account when weighing up staff requirements.

With South Central Ambulance Service making £30m of cuts over five years, there are pressing issues about the number of ambulances required to guarantee full coverage of the county.

Ambulance staff in South Oxfordshire are still struggling to reach half of the most urgent emergency calls within eight minutes.

They are some way off responding to at least 75 per cent of life-threatening cases within eight minutes and rectifying that deficiency must remain one of SCAS’s key priorities.