RAF Marham Co-Response Unit Win Volunteer Team of the Year Award!

RAF Marham’s Co-Response Unit (formally First Response) has been responding to 999 calls in the East of England for the last 11 years. Back in 2001 we were mainly used for cardiac arrests, chest pain and shortness of breath calls in the local area. We now attend many different types of call including road traffic incidents, diabetic problems, strokes and paediatric patients, to mention but a few.

RAF Marham’s Co-Response Unit (formally First Response) has been responding to 999 calls in the East of England for the last 11 years. Back in 2001 we were mainly used for cardiac arrests, chest pain and shortness of breath calls in the local area. We now attend many different types of call including road traffic incidents, diabetic problems, strokes and paediatric patients, to mention but a few.

The team currently has 20 members and all are past or serving members of the Royal Air Force at Marham. The team is made up of personnel from all trades and backgrounds and we receive comprehensive training from the ambulance service. Some members of the team are trained to respond using blue lights and sirens following an intensive three week course, they are then continually assessed to monitor performance. All members of the team are trained to IHCD First Person on Scene (Int) level with extra skills added to meet the needs of the ambulance service. Members of the team must attend monthly continuation training and are regularly assessed to ensure that they’re ready and able to respond to the highest of standards.

There is no such thing as a typical shift and we meet at MT to check over the vehicle and equipment to make sure everything is ready to go and the car is safe to respond at speed. When ready we log on to the MDT terminal which is a system used by the ambulance service to track, monitor and pass call details to all vehicles within their fleet. Once logged on we appear on the ambulance service’s dispatch system (CAD) with all the other ambulances and are available to be dispatched to 999 calls anywhere in the East of England area.

The dispatcher will then identify an area that requires cover using a computer model coupled with their experience. We then receive a message on the MDT to move to that area which can be an ambulance station or one of the designated dynamic standby points.

The CAD system and dispatch staff will monitor our tracking icon on their system and as soon as a 999 call comes in the nearest ambulance is sent. Whilst the incident details are still being established we’re ‘passed the red call’ and make our way to the scene. Whilst en route the call details are updated live on our MDT system display. Once on scene we will update control, request additional resources if required and care for the patient until we’re ‘backed up’ by a transportable resource. When necessary we will remain with the patient in the back of the ambulance for continuity of care or if the patients condition requires an extra pair of hands whilst en route.

We provide six hours of cover per day if the crew members have been at work on the same day or 12 hours of cover per day or night shift over the weekend. We attend around 1,000 patients per year but this year is heading towards 1,400+. We try to provide cover every day and are very much part of the whole ambulance trust team. If a team member has spare time and the response car is fully crewed, they’re encouraged to ‘crew up’ with full time trust staff so that each member of our team gains experience in all ambulance service roles.

To date we have attended around 5,500 calls, provided around 4,000 hrs of cover per year and have attended everything from missing persons to major incidents and everything in-between. We’re funded from the Station Charity Committee and we require around £5,000 per year to respond. The ambulance service provides fuel, consumables, training and protective equipment but the team is required to provide uniform, some equipment and the vehicle.

Every year the East of England Ambulance Trust hold an awards evening based around the Oscars format to recognise the work of individuals and teams across the organisation. Over 160 nominations were received and the winners were decided by a committee of senior managers. This year we decided to put ourselves forward for the first time in our 11 year history. We attended the awards ceremony at Newmarket race course and I’m very pleased to announce that we won the Volunteer Team of the Year award 2012! We came ahead of 250 volunteer teams in Essex, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk to take the award.

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