FIRST Responders in Herefordshire will have to raise vital funds to replace batteries and pads for defibrillators.

Due to spending pressures, West Midlands Ambulance Service will no longer pay for the routine replacement of pads and batteries. They will only pay to replace those pads used to treat a cardiac arrest.

Leominster councillor Clive Thomas, who was in the ambulance service for 40 years, has labelled the changes ‘diabolical’ and is helping to raise money for the local first responders.

The batteries cost £200 each and pads £30 each to replace.

He added that money would need to be raised so that three new recruits to the voluntary First Responder Service in Leominster could carry their own defibrillators.

Murray MacGregor, a spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service, said the changes have been enforced to bring Herefordshire into line with the rest of the region.

He added that first responders regularly share defibrillators so it might not be necessary for each volunteer to have their own one.

“For some years now everyone else in the West Midlands Ambulance Service has paid for new batteries and pads to be replaced,” said Mr MacGregor.

“If it needs to be replaced every five years it would cost £50 a year which works out to £1 a week to raise which isn’t a high amount. Leominster has defibrillators that work, they got them last year and the batteries last five years so there is no problem and they have got another three years worth of life.

“Most community first responders schemes have one set of equipment that they share between them as they are not on shift 24/7. So there is no reason those three new recruits can’t go live. At the end of the day we have a clinical pot of money and are not commissioned to have the first responders scheme.”

However, Cllr Thomas said that first responders often go out in their own vehicles and should be able to carry their own defibrillators and not have to share.

n Donations can be posted to Leominster First Responders, 11 Corn Square, Leominster, HR6 8YP.