Devon’s emergency medics to acquire new lifesaving vehicle

BASICS Devon, a network of volunteer doctors, who support ambulance staff at emergency incidents, is to acquire a new emergency responder vehicle with hi-visibility and reflective markings, which fitted with communication and navigation equipment, blue lights, sirens and a dash cam, to ensure its volunteer doctors are able to drive safely to an emergency incident.

The 4×4 Skoda Kodiaq, will be active across Devon, carrying volunteer doctors, to the scene of critically ill or injured patients in the community or at the roadside. This vehicle will also provide the opportunity for education in pre-hospital medicine to other healthcare professionals.

The new vehicle has been made possible after the group successfully bid for a total of £44,000 from a pot of £250,000, which is given to the British Association for Immediate Care (BASICS) every year by the County Air Ambulance HELP Appeal – the only charity in the country dedicated to funding NHS hospital helipads. The new funding will also enable BASICS Devon to add blue lights and safety equipment to two new responders’ vehicles.

This will be the first scheme response vehicle for BASICS Devon. Having their own emergency response vehicle to access critical, isolated, sick and injured patients will help to ease pain and suffering and save lives across one of the most rural counties in the country. It will enable their volunteers to reach remote communities with ease, safely and quickly, in all weather conditions and in most cases arrive before the ambulance.

BASICS Devon is one of a network of schemes across the UK, which operates under the umbrella of the British Association for Immediate Care – a national organisation. It currently has 13 responders who were dispatched 408 times last year. Between July and August 2020

the key reasons for call outs were, road traffic collisions (87 cases), Medical (36 cases), stabbings (8 cases) and cardiac arrest (32 cases).

Dr Marc Epps, volunteer Immediate Care Doctor and Secretary, BASICS Devon, said, “We are all very pleased to be progressing with our scheme car project thanks to the generous funding from the British Association for Immediate Care enabled by the HELP Appeal. The trustees are finalising the specifications required to best serve our purpose. We anticipate the vehicle will be in use constantly with the responders so we are keen to get it right for our community.”

Dr Simon Scott-Hayward, Chair, BASICS Devon, added, “As a charity we are very aware of the need to include ‘green solutions’ and ensure we consider the community and our environment. We feel it is important to always evaluate the impact we make on our environment, such as carbon emissions in all our activity, and will take this forward throughout this project as much as we practically can, whilst ensuring we maintain and sustain our goal purpose to save lives.”

Robert Bertram, Chief Executive of the County Air Ambulance HELP Appeal, added, “This substantial donation to BASICS Devon is in recognition of their lifesaving work – all carried out in their spare time – supporting local ambulance crews faced with hugely complex incidents, where people’s lives are at serious risk. This new car will help these volunteers to reach incidents quickly and safely to help treat patients and give them the best possible chance of survival and recovery.”

In 2019, BASICS Devon secured £39,000 from the annual pot of £250,000, to equip members’ existing vehicles for an emergency role, such as the installation of CCTV technology and winter tyres. The funding also enabled one new doctor to join the scheme after their vehicle was equipped to reach emergency incidents – this has helped with callouts in the North Devon area enabling the scheme to reach more people in the community to save lives.