TWO years of leading a new scheme to train members of the public to act as life-saving teams has earned a County Durham woman a national role.

Barbara Broadbelt, from Fishburn, has been appointed by Lifesavers, the Royal Life Saving Society UK, to co-ordinate its First Responders scheme across the country.

She has led a successful pilot programme which has grown since its launch in Trimdon by Prime Minister Tony Blair to include 35 projects manned by several hundred volunteers.

The volunteers who make up the First Responders teams are trained to keep heart attack victims alive until paramedics or ambulance crews arrive.

Based at the heart of communities and armed with defibrillators, they can be called out at any time of day or night to provide essential care in the first vital minutes of an emergency.

Barbara has worked with the North-East Ambulance Service, primary care health trusts and the volunteers to make the trial scheme a success.