'It's all about trying to save lives': emergency medical charity celebrates 50 years

The Suffolk Accident and Rescue Service (SARS) has been delivering emergency medical treatment to the community since 1972.

The Suffolk Accident and Rescue Service (SARS) has been delivering emergency medical treatment to the community since 1972. Pictured: Advanced Clinical Practitioner Mark Thompson, Critical Care Paramedic Dan Phillips, Dr Norman Pao - Credit: Suffolk Accident Rescue Service (SARS)

A team of emergency medical volunteers is celebrating 50 years of saving lives in Suffolk. 

The Suffolk Accident Rescue Service (SARS) is a network of solo responders and mobile critical care teams, with vital skills in treating critically ill and injured patients before they reach hospital.  

 SARS voluntters, Advanced Clinical Practitioner Kevin Breitsprecher and Dr Silke Walter

SARS voluntters, Advanced Clinical Practitioner Kevin Breitsprecher and Dr Silke Walter - Credit: Suffolk Accident Rescue Service (SARS)

The Suffolk Accident and Rescue Service has delivered urgent medical care to thousands of people

The Suffolk Accident and Rescue Service has delivered urgent medical care to thousands of people from Suffolk and the surrounding areas in the last 50 years. - Credit: Suffolk Accident Rescue Service (SARS)

They respond to anything from road traffic accidents, cardiac arrests, serious falls, sporting incidents, and anyone else in need of urgent care. 

The charity has been operational since 1972. Over the past 50 years, it has helped thousands of people across Suffolk and the surrounding areas. 

One of those patients is Graeme Byrne, from Bacton, who says he feels lucky to be alive after suffering a cardiac arrest last year. 

A SARS team arrived at the scene and was able to deliver advanced medical procedures to Graeme, which helped save his life. 

SARS volunteers Dr James Price, Critical Care Paramedic Jemma Varela, and Paramedic Rob Moon,

SARS volunteers Dr James Price, Critical Care Paramedic Jemma Varela, and Paramedic Rob Moon, - Credit: Suffolk Accident Rescue Service (SARS)

Graeme said: “I’m extremely lucky to still be here as there’s only a 10% chance of survival when this happens outside of a hospital.  

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“Without their help (treating me at the scene and staying with me until I went into theatre at the NNUH, I’m pretty sure my brain wouldn’t be working as it now is.  

“I was astounded to learn that they are volunteers on top of their busy day jobs.” 

Ben Hall, operations manager, said: “It’s all about trying to save lives and reducing the chances of patients suffering permanent disability.

“Having a local resource which can bring many of the key elements of an Intensive Care Unit to an incident scene is a game-changer for many of the time-critical patients that we treat.” 

In honour of their anniversary, SARS has launched a ‘50-for-50' campaign to boost their funds by over £50,000 in the next 12 months. 

They would like to challenge at least 50 businesses, groups and individuals to raise a minimum of £1,000 for SARS. 

Chairman James Whatling said: “If you are a philanthropist, a local business, a sports club or simply someone who wants to help, please get in touch; your fundraising and donations help us buy vital equipment which in turn helps us to save lives.” 

Graeme has pledged to walk 40 miles, from the location of his cardiac arrest in Eye to the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. 

To donate to the SARS, visit: www.sars999.org.uk/donate-to-sars/

To donate to Graeme, visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/graeme-byrnesars