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Casper van Beek leads pioneers in first aid in Ugchelen: ‘Finding citizen responders? It’s simple, you take to the streets!’

20 January 2017

The AED had hardly made its entry in the Netherlands before the Ugchelen village council gathered to see if there could be widespread volunteer first response. The village near Apeldoorn became one of the pioneers. Five years later, the community of seven thousand has around ninety registered first responders. The registered AEDs cover almost the entire town. Chairman Casper van Beek tells his story.

Founding a working group

Villager Wilma Pothoven took the first step back in 2009. She heard about first response and started a working group. The first goal was creating an organised network of people who already know how to resuscitate.

First responders

Finding and keeping sufficient citizen responders turned out well for us. We did play an active role in that ourselves. Very simply, we took to the streets to recruit volunteers. Throughout the town, ninety people signed up as citizen responders, creating good coverage.


At the same time we made an effort to get all those who owned AEDs in our town – mostly businesses – to make them available in emergencies even outside of opening hours. André van den Heuvel, owner of what was then the C1000 supermarket, was the first. He purchased an Aviakst with his personal funds, so that the AED could be placed outside.


By now there are eight AEDs registered and available 24/7: the town hall, two health care centres, a supermarket, a church, a private residence and two from the housing corporation. We even successfully collected funds to purchase a ninth AED. This provides coverage to pretty much the entire village.

Resuscitation training

Most volunteers had already had their basic resuscitation training, through work for instance. Through us, all volunteers were offered a refresher course twice a year. This was all made possible through our sponsors: a good number of local retailers and even a private person who contributes significantly.