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SAR Winch Operator Volunteers as Community First Responder

May 10, 2016

Bristow Search and Rescue (SAR) Winch Operator Ritchie Waterton puts his skills to good use in his free time as a volunteer community first responder. He currently serves his hometown of Somerton in Somerset, where he volunteers at least once per week when he is off work.

"Due to the rural nature of the area, ambulance response times are often longer than they are in other areas and may not meet national response time requirements," said Waterton. "Community first responders reduce that critical reaction time for emergency calls using our own vehicles."

As part of his duties as a winch operator with the UK Coastguard SAR helicopter service, which Bristow operates on behalf of Her Majesty’s Coastguard, Waterton is a trained hazardous environment medical technician (HEMT).

"The main goal is to get to scene and start basic life-saving actions with a defibrillator and oxygen," said Waterton. "Not every call leads to a dramatic outcome. I often provide reassurance and begin taking observations and a patient's history prior to arrival of the ambulance crew."

Waterton serves with UK SAR Winchman Terry Bastyan in the same community. "Our local community is well covered," he said.