SAVING LIVES ON THE SIDE
IN THE LINCOLNSHIRE AREA ARE TWO FULLY MARKED UP AMBULANCE SERVICE RAPID RESPONSE VEHICLES. THESE RRVS AS THEY ARE KNOWN ARE CREWED BY OFF DUTY MILITARY AND FORMER MILITARY PERSONNEL FROM RAF CONINGSBY, WADDINGTON, CRANWELL AND RAF DIGBY.
This small team of volunteer personnel gives their time freely to help the local ambulance service, working under the charity Lincolnshire Emergency Medical Response, abbreviated as LEMR and pronounced Lemur. Some may know this scheme by its former title; First Response. The aim of this initiative is to add a dynamic resource to help cut down the amount of time it takes to respond to 999 calls in the Lincolnshire area.
The First Response charity was set up in 1998 and aimed to get an Automated External Defibrillators to patients in more remote areas as soon as possible – therefore increasing the chances of survival of cardiac arrest. Approximately five years ago the regional teams where formed and the charity LEMR was born working directly for the local East Midlands Ambulance Service.
The reduction of every minute in responding to a patient who has a potentially life threatening condition dramatically increases their chance of survival, especially if they require a defibrillator following a cardiac arrest.
The charity helps to fill a gap by offering emergency life support until the ambulance crew are able to arrive and take over treatment which can make a real life saving difference. Other benefits are the ability to calm and reassure people whilst making and recording initial patient observations or improving the patients comfort using recognised treatment techniques. Both RRV’s are fully Battenberg’ed (the green and yellow reflective checker plate pattern), have a blue light bar and sirens, Terrafix satellite mapping and secure tetra/ airwaves radios along with a myriad of medical equipment.
There is no such thing as a normal shift; the only thing you can guarantee happening is logging on and off Terrafix, the Ambulance Service tasking system. Jobs could include anything from road traffic accidents, chest pains, falls, breathing difficulties or trauma. The patient age range can be anything from 3 months to “quite elderly”. The most important aspect is the ability to think on your feet.
Prospective applicants are asked to shadow a number of shifts as a third man to ensure that the people are fully aware of what membership of the scheme involves and understand the level of commitment required.
The LEMR scheme and its personnel are held in high regard within the East Midlands Ambulance Service, and LEMR members often receive offers from ambulance crews to work with them for an entire shift. On several occasions LEMR teams have been first on scene and then accompanied the ambulance to hospital and straight into the emergency room where they have continued to assist the hospital team at the request of the ambulance crew.
The scheme currently employs military personnel across a range of different trades from aircraft engineers, electricians, gunners, logisticians, clerks, aircrew and many more. As personnel are posted, individuals have been known to transfer within schemes to continue their involvement after the appropriate local area training.
If you are interested in joining the scheme it is important to understand the commitment that is needed and the training route you will be exposed to. The shift commitment is one shift per week after your normal working day, finishing at approximately midnight (Monday to Thursday. Friday nights usually finish around 0200). As LEMR is a charity there are fundraising events to help organise and attend. One team member has devised a custom half MTP and half LEMR uniform to illustrate the duel role of all our members; certainly a talking point at fundraising events as it illustrates the relationship. It is vitally important to maintain medical clinical currency; there are numerous training days to attend spread out throughout the year normally held at the Ambulance Training Centre in Lincoln. Initial medical training starts with a intensive two day anatomy and physiology course taught by a paramedic who was formally part of LEMR whilst serving with the RAF. The next stage is an intensive one week clinical course where students will learn about maintaining /inserting airways (nasal and oropharyngeal), defibrillator training, oxygen therapy, Entonox, neck collar sizing, blood pressure taking, Motorbike helmet removal, RTC extraction methods, blood sugar measurement, trauma, different medical conditions and lots lots more.
Once this course is completed, hands on training continues on shifts with more experienced LEMR team members, plus at least one shift with a East Midlands Ambulance Service crew on a front-line ambulance/response car.
After gaining experience, further training can be undertakenusing sambulatol, IV drips, more detailed O2 therapy, and plenty more. This ensures familiarity with the equipment and protocol and also serves as an experience builder across a range of different emergency calls volunteers should expected to attend.
After having served as a productive team member with good clinical currency volunteers may be given the opportunity to complete a three week advanced driving course where they will be taught to drive to a nationally recognised blue light standard; this is a very intensive and demanding course that far from all pass.
If you are interested in one of the most satisfying secondary duties in the service, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I am happy to answer any questions and can set you off on the first stage of application; booking on to a shift as an observer.