Community first responder

What does a community first responder do?

The Community First Responder (CFR) System creates a direct link between St John Ambulance WA, local communities and businesses, enabling individuals to help cardiac arrest victims during the critical period before the ambulance arrives – when it matters most.

Each CFR location has details/key words pertinent to that location entered on the St John Ambulance system. When a call comes in from that location using a key word, an alert advises the St John call taker that there is an automated external defibrillator (AED) at that location. The ambulance is despatched and the location advised so that they can deploy the AED if required.

What is a sudden cardiac arrest?

Not to be confused with a heart attack, a sudden cardiac arrest happens when the normal rhythm of your heart is unexpectedly interrupted. This disruption stops your heart’s capacity to pump blood around your body.

A sudden cardiac arrest is a life threatening condition with survival dependent on immediate assistance rendering defibrillation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Why are community first responders needed?

Contrary to popular belief, sudden cardiac arrest can strike any person regardless of age, gender or health status. Around 33,000 Australians die every year from this condition.

The single key contributing factor to improving survival rates of a person having a sudden cardiac arrest is the time taken to administer early CPR and defibrillation.

Studies have shown when CPR and defibrillation are administered within 5 minutes of a cardiac arrest patient survival rates are significantly higher.

The St John Ambulance Western Australia CFR program creates a direct link between the ambulance service, the triple zero (000) call centre and local communities, businesses and organisations.

How does the community first responder system work?

In the event of a sudden cardiac arrest, the following takes place:

  1. A person suffers a sudden cardiac arrest.
  2. Bystanders call triple zero (000).
  3. An ambulance is dispatched.
  4. The first responder is called by the St John Ambulance triple zero (000) call centre and sent to the scene.
  5. The CFR carries out CPR and applies the automated external defibrillator (AED) if necessary.
  6. The ambulance arrives and paramedics take over the care of the patient.

Why should my organisation or club become a community first responder location?

The benefits of adopting the CFR system in your organisation or community include:

  • The knowledge that you will be playing a key role in helping to save lives in your local community or workplace.
  • Peace of mind that a well-coordinated response plan to medical emergencies is in place.
  • Being informed of incidents of cardiac arrest as they are happening and being able to help.
  • A direct communication link between your organisation and St John Ambulance.
  • For businesses, professional first aid training for nominated members of your staff.
  • Ongoing clinical support, training and customer service.
  • An easy to implement plan that is already working well in WA communities and organisations.

More information

Become a community first responder


  • Cardiac arrest can strike any person regardless of age, gender or health.
  • If CPR and defibrillation is administered within 5 minutes of a cardiac arrest patient survival rates increase significantly.
  • Always call triple zero (000) in an emergency.

This information provided by

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St John Ambulance WA

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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