‘I’ll be there’ - first responder’s pledge to those who fall ill in some of the most rural parts of Norfolk

Brian Bale, right, chairman of Diss Business Forum, with Rachel Hillier, of Diss Community First Responders. Picture: WENDY AIKEN

Brian Bale, right, chairman of Diss Business Forum, with Rachel Hillier, of Diss Community First Responders. Picture: WENDY AIKEN


It is a service none of us ever wish to have to call on.

But one of the county’s first responders who provides life-saving first aid to casualties in some of the most rural parts of Norfolk has given the heartwarming message that if you do fall ill: “I’ll be there.”

Rachel Hillier spoke about how Diss Community First Responders had been called to 2,025 emergencies since forming in 2008.

First responders like Mrs Hillier complete five consecutive weekends of medical training in Newmarket so they can provide help to people who have suffered a range of conditions such as heart attacks, breathing difficulties, falls and more until an ambulance arrives.

“Sometimes all we can do is hold someone’s hand and reassure them until the ambulance arrives,” she told Diss Business Forum’s Christmas lunch at the town’s Park Hotel in December.

“I love the job and hopefully we might make some sort of difference.

“I hope you never need me but, if you do fall ill, I’ll be there.”

However Mrs Hillier - who lives in Scole, just a few miles outside of Diss - would like to encourage more people to offer their times as volunteers.

“We’re in a very big rural area and there are no main fast routes,” she explained.

Unlike the emergency crews, they are not allowed to break speed limits - but she said: “As first responders, we’re all geared up to respond as fast as we can.”

More people though would help to ensure they can reach people within their 15min target response time.

Many of those who join use it to help them land a future job as a paramedic, which can sometimes leave the organisation even shorter of people.

“It doesn’t matter what job you do - you can do something for your community,” Mrs Hillier said.

People have to be able to drive to serve as a first responder and can work until any age, as long as they are strong enough to carry the medical equipment they need with them.

For more information about volunteering, email

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