Volunteer-based first responder program helps cut down on call times

Posted: Updated:
JERSEY CITY -

A Jersey City-based program is helping to save lives by training regular citizens how to be first responders.

Volunteers with United Rescue, a program based out of Jersey City Medical Center, are able to respond to medical emergencies in mere minutes – and often get to the emergency before the ambulance arrives.

“I never thought I would do something like this,” says volunteer Ashley Ciccarelli.

Ciccarelli serves as a “community-based emergency caregiver” or CBEC. The program is ran through an app on her phone.

When Ciccarelli or another volunteer gets a notification, they are able to put on a vest that identifies them as a CBEC, grab their equipment bag and head to a call. The call may often be in the building that the CBEC is currently in. Officials say that this is helping to greatly cut down on response times.

“We’ve had six total CPR saves that can be attributed to the community-based emergency caregiver,” says United Rescue program manager Joshua Otero.

Ciccarelli’s first call was a respiratory issue one floor below where she works.

"I was there within two minutes, I grabbed my things, got in the elevator, got downstairs and beat the ambulance and it was pretty fast,” she says.

The program started in 2015. Officials say that CBECs have responded to 4,600 calls since its inception. Ciccarelli says that she has responded to about 30 of them.

"There are some calls where I go home and I think about it and just reflect on how awesome it is to just be there and be one of the first people to provide care to someone in the community and make a difference,” she says.

United Rescue says that they are always looking for more volunteers. The next training session will be in March. More information can be found at the United Rescue website.

The program will also be launching in Englewood later this year.

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