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RAF Marham First Response - Background Information

RAF Marham First Response - Background Information


In June 2001 the idea to train a team of military personnel in Trauma Care, Advanced Life Support (ALS) and to drive on blue lights and sirens all to Ambulance Standard seemed like a bit of a crazy one. Could it be possible to put a team together of 20+ individuals from various trades, sections & squadrons and operate alongside the daily running of the Ambulance Service here in East Anglia, well 800+ shifts and 1000+ Emergency calls later the answer is YES.

Who - What - Why:
I suppose I had better explain who? and what? we are. Several years ago an incident occurred involving a serviceman, who's father died of a heart attack, it took 15 minutes before medical aid attended, by which time sadly it was to late. A need was clearly identified that in certain rural and inner city areas the response time and availability of the already stretched ambulance service was clearly a cause for concern. Population is on the increase and people are generally living longer but illness, accident and injury's are still occurring and constantly putting the Ambulance service under strain. As a result of this 'First Response' was born.

The plan was to train a team of 20+ responders in Trauma Care, Advanced Life Support (ALS) including the use of Defibrillators (Machines which shock the heart into a normal rhythm) and First Aid. This training would be given by the Ambulance service and be carried out in an intensive weeklong course.

Blues & Twos:
The necessity for us once trained to respond to emergency calls within the nationally recognised '8 minute' window required us to be trained in High Speed Driving on blue lights and sirens. Again this training was undertaken by Ambulance service driving instructors and a final test under the watchful eye of the West Norfolk Constabulary.

The Technical Bit:
With training complete and personnel donning green uniforms RAF Marham First Response team finally went live in June 2001. Equipment was stowed in the boot of a brand new Fiat Response Car, which in turn was equipped with blue lights, sirens and the obligatory high visibility stripes.

Ambulance standard radio and Automatic Vehicle Location System (AVLS) ensured that Ambulance control in Norwich could keep track of our position and update us on any emergency calls requiring our attendance. In addition to this the car is fitted with satellite navigation, again this proves invaluable when locating incidents and addresses.

How Does It Work:
So how does it work? Most towns have an ambulance station, but what happens when that ambulance goes out on an emergency call? Usually another ambulance is tasked to cover that area, but what happens if that ambulance is then tasked with another emergency call?, You can see now that it is possible to have areas in and around Norfolk with little or no emergency medical cover. This is where First Response helps out. We provide essential cover operating from ambulance stations and high-risk black spots throughout Norfolk often jumping from ambulance station to station providing medical cover for those areas. Should a call come in we are then tasked to attend under blue lights and sirens and start the treatment cycle until an ambulance is able to attend and convey the patient to hospital if required. In some cases we are not able to provide treatment, but we do have a direct link to ambulance control and so are able to update ambulance crews with valuable information prior to arrival, this includes the requirement for Police and Fire services if needed. Charity.

So how are we funded:
Well 'First Response' is a registered charity and as such receives no official funding from the MoD/RAF or the Ambulance Service. Relying totally on support and fund raising from sections within Marham and from the local communities that it serves. Monies raised are used to purchase essential kit including uniform, medical bags and contents, and more recently a Training Defibrillator, Future plans are to obtain a new Response Car to replace the Fiat Stilo which in it's 2 years of service on the scheme had already completed over 60,000 miles. We have been running a Honda CRV for the last 3 years, and in 2010 we have just taken delivery of a new Ford Focus, paid for by the Station Charities Fund.

24 Hour Cover:

One of the questions that we are always getting asked is "Do we provide a 24hr service", well quite frankly no we don't. First Response was set up to operate outside of our normal working day, and it was important not to interfere with our primary roles within the Air Force, shift patterns and station duties.

Therefore we operate the following shifts:

Sunday to Thursday 18:00 - 0:00
Friday to Saturday 18:00 - 02:00
Saturday to Sunday 09:00 - 18:00

Does It Work:
So the big question is 'Does It Work?' Well, Marham's First Response along with its sister schemes currently running at Honington have recently been praised by the East Anglian Ambulance Service for helping the service to meet the national response times laid down by the government. And in providing a high standard of patient care including treatment where needed. I think the statistics speak for themselves, since inception in June 2001 Call Sign 'R662' Marhams Response Car and team have attended over 5000+ emergency calls, putting the car out on shift almost every day of the year.

So what can you do to help:
Marham first response is always looking out for new recruits to join. Upon applying to join you will be encouraged to ride out as an observer on a shift, this ensures that we select the right person for the team and subsequent training. Sometimes jobs are not very pleasant and this also helps to identify anyone who is of a squeamish disposition. Our selves and a senior ambulance service paramedic then interview candidates who wish to continue with the application to join.

After that it's just a case of waiting for a training course as either a Driver (Clean licence required) or as a Clinical Responder. These courses take place at the discretion of the Ambulance Service. Until then a successful candidate will continue to ride out on the Response Car. If its not up your street we are always looking for sponsorship and fundraising ideas.

For further information on joining the scheme or helping to support Marham First Response please do not hesitate to contact myself on the following number:

RAF Marham First Response Team
Registered Charity No 1077419

First Response Contacts - For further Details or Sponsorship Contact:
Sergeant George Denman (Team Leader RAF Marham First Response)
RAF Marham
King's Lynn
Norfolk PE33 9NP
GPTN 95951 Ext 7146
Civ (01760) 337261 Ext 7146

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