NEW First Responder teams have been set up in two areas of Peeblesshire and will begin their duties on December 1.

Under the guidance of the Scottish Ambulance Service, the two new First Responder groups have been set up in Peeblesshire; one based in Peebles and the other in Innerleithen & Walkerburn.

Whilst two groups have been formed links will be maintained for joint support including monthly training events.

Team members have already undergone training to use defibrillators and met at Peebles Fire Station on Wednesday evening as the preparations continue ahead of the launch.

More than 100 First Responder schemes have been launched across Scotland.

The project will involve the ambulance service training volunteers in basic first aid and life-saving skills and provide the appropriate medical equipment so that staff members can deliver an early response to patients while the ambulance is on its way.

The responders are deployed to appropriate calls by the ambulance service's Emergency Medical Dispatch Centre.

Paramedic Jill Keddie said: "Speed of intervention can often be critical when responding to 999 calls.

The First Responder initiative creates an even faster response for patients and is co-ordinated with our existing ambulance resources. In a medical emergency it is often the simple first aid skills, like making sure an airway is clear, that save a life." She added: "The programme is an enhancement to our existing ambulance resources and each scheme works locally with our staff to ensure ongoing refresher training in basic life saving skills and the use of medical equipment.

First responders are asked to attend serious and life threatening emergencies, such as breathing difficulties, chest pains, cardiac arrest or unconsciousness. They are not sent to road collisions or traumatic injuries or anything out with their training.

Much work still needs to be done including fund raising events with around �2500 of equipment needed for each group, recruit more volunteers to train as First Responders as well as those who may be able to assist in other ways such as organising, co-ordinating and record keeping.