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First Responder Bryan Foley is a hero to many families

10 February 2011

He may not fly around town in a cape like Superman but First Responder Bryan Foley is a hero to many families in the Vale of Glamorgan after saving countless lives in the area.

The Vale of Glamorgan Ambulance Service First Responder Scheme received nearly £5,000 through our Awards for All Programme to buy new equipment.

Rhona Benavent from Barry is eternally grateful to Bryan Foley and the First Responder team. In August last year Rhona thought her 61-year-old mother, Dionisia Macatangay was going to die when she went into cardiac arrest at her home.

“She was grey and had stopped breathing,” recalled Rhona.

“I screamed for my husband to ring 999 and started to administer CPR. I’d done CPR a long time ago in the Philippines but I never thought I would be using it on my mother.”

In just over three minutes, an emergency call brought Volunteer First Responder, Bryan Foley, with a defibrillator to her home in Maes y Cwm Road. He had to shock Dionisia three times to bring her back to life. After receiving hospital treatment, Dionisia is now fully recovered following her brush with death and feels forever indebted to Bryan.

Bryan knows only too well how a little amount of cash can make a big difference to the lives of people in the community. That’s why Bryan has joined the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) in urging more community groups in the Vale to take full advantage of BIG’s Awards for All small grants scheme, which aims to help improve local communities and the lives of people most in need.

In August 2010, the Vale of Glamorgan Ambulance Service First Responder Scheme was awarded £4,971 to buy new equipment for the group. With over 60 volunteers in the Vale, the project provides a lifeline for people who are at risk from heart attack, cardiac arrest, who are having breathing difficulties or have suffered injuries in the home.

Encouraging more groups in the Vale of Glamorgan to apply for funding, Gareth Williams, Awards for All Programme Manager for BIG in Wales, said: “Our message is simple – if a community group has an idea for a project which supports community activity, extends access and participation, increases skill and creativity or generally improves the quality of life of people in their area, then we definitely want to hear from them.”

Application forms are available from or by phone on 0300 123 0735.


You can listen to an interview with First Responder Bryan Foley below:

The transcript of the interview can be viewed here:

He may not fly around town in a cape like Superman but Bryan Foley is a superhero to many people in the Vale of Glamorgan and is on call any time of the day when someone’s in trouble.

Mortgage advisor by day, Bryan became a volunteer six years ago. Since then, he has been saving the lives and easing the suffering of a countless number of people. Emergency calls have included heart attacks, strokes and accidents in the home. But even if a call ends in tragedy, Bryan doesn’t see it as a failure.

I would say every call the group has attended has been a success, for the simple reason being, how do you measure success? If there’s a patient there that’s suffering, and, even if you’ve only gone there and held their hand and calmed them down, you’ve controlled that suffering, you know, and the thing is, even if the patient has died, the thing is, you’ve arrived and taken some of the burden off that relative.

Despite his positive outlook, the 49-year-old described some of his more frustrating and traumatic calls.

I suppose really the worst sort of call you could go to is when you’re going to cardiac arrest and you’ve got a red traffic light in front of you, you know, I look at those situations and I look at a situation where I was called one day to a six week old baby turned blue and not breathing, and, in fact, they were very close to where I lived, and I was round there before you could say ‘Jack Robinson’. And the baby was limp, and, psychologically, in my mind, you know, I know it’s going to happen one day, it’s I’m not going to lose a babe on my watch. I got in there, the baby was limp, mum gave me the child, and, just as she gave me the child, the child started crying and it was the best thing since sliced bread.

Sometimes the sheer number of calls, coupled with their unpredictable nature, means he can be needed at any time when he’s on duty. This could mean a mad dash from work or a quick exit from the supermarket during his weekly shop.

How we’re activated and deployed is they actually phone us up on a mobile phone, but, the problem is, they don’t know where we are. Now today I’m on call – I’m not sitting around waiting for a call. I sort of left what I was doing work wise, went down to Morrisons to do my weekly shopping, right, and I’ve actually been in a position where they’ve called me out in the middle of Morrisons and I’ve just left my shopping trolley, left it with the security guard – I’ll be back for that now in a bit – and I’ve got out of the shop and I’ve come back, got my trolley, started off again and then legged it out. One day I legged it out of the shop three times. It’s the sort of thing – it’s not meant to affect our lives when we volunteer.

Despite being called out to many traumatic events, Bryan says comments he’s received from patients and their friends more than make up for it

I suppose really it’s the pride and satisfaction of knowing that I’ve helped somebody. Perhaps one night I was taking my son out to play snooker, while my two girls had gone to scouts, and this lady stopped us over Barry Island and she said, “oh hello, thank you for what you did for my dad and I said, “you know that’s ok” and she was talking away, “we’re very grateful blah blah blah blah blah” and I said well, “excuse me where did you dad live?” And she said, “so and so street” and, instantly, I remembered the call then and started having a chat. And she turned round to my son and said, “is that your dad?” And he said yeah. She said, “you ought to be very proud of him – he’s a special person – what he’s doing in the community, really grateful we are.” It sort of put a lump in my throat you know I don’t do it for that – I do it because I know being in the community one can make a difference.

The Vale of Glamorgan Ambulance Service First Responder Scheme received nearly £5,000 through our Awards for All Programme to buy new equipment.

And the Big Lottery Fund is encouraging more groups in Wales to apply for funding through the programme.

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