A COMMUNITY group that supports the ambulance service has set up its own centre to help spread awareness of life-saving techniques.

Canvey First Responders held two special launch events for its new centre in Long Road, Canvey.

First responders are volunteers who work alongside the East of England Ambulance Service by responding to emergency 999 calls.

Mick Allwood, group co-ordinator, said the launch went really well and was very well attended.

He said: “People seemed to be very interested and supportive in what we are doing.

“That is the reason that we set it up, it is a community hub to get more awareness among the public.

“We had some special guests at the launch event, including Barry Campagna, Canvey town mayor and some representatives from the East of England Ambulance Service.

“We will be holding awareness sessions about using CPR and defibrillators when people go into a cardiac arrest.

“We will be holding our first sessions in the last week in June.

“We will be teaching members of the public valuable knowledge.”

He added: “This is a new idea for us, to have a centre, and it is unusual for a first responders group.

“We are setting a standard in the East of England with this new hub. We will be using the hub for our own training sessions when needed but also for the public sessions.”

Mr Allwood said the training is known as Heart Start.

Mr Allwood said the group has received sponsorship to cover the first year’s rent from island businesses including Aspect, an asbestos specialist, and the owners of Thorney Bay Caravan Park.

The centre is expected to help save lives and is the latest edition to the island.

The community group has also put eight defibrillators out in the community but says there is a lack of knowledge and awareness from residents about using them.

One of the main aims behind the group’s new centre is to stop people from being worried about using a defibrillator by providing training.

The group feels these skills are so important for people to know.

As the name suggests first responders often arrive before ambulances to help until paramedics arrive.

For more on the group, visit the website canveyfirstresponders.org.uk