Life-saving medical volunteers determined to keep services running during COVID-19 crisis

Volunteer SARS critical care paramedics, Joe Dowsing and Andrew Bates, on a voluntary team shift Pic

Volunteer SARS critical care paramedics, Joe Dowsing and Andrew Bates, on a voluntary team shift Picture: SARS - Credit: Archant

A group of life-saving emergency medical volunteers are determined to keep services running during the coronavirus crisis but admit the current situation is “very challenging”.

The Suffolk Accident Rescue Service (SARS) provides voluntary support to the ambulance service by assisting at the scenes of serious medical emergencies across the county.

SARS responders include anaesthetists, critical care paramedics and other clinicians with enhanced pre-hospital skills. These clinicians are authorised to carry specialist drugs and additional life-saving equipment not found on frontline ambulances.

The charity, based at Woolpit, near Bury St Edmunds, receives no government funding and relies on voluntary donations to pay for equipment and training.

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Ben Hall, operations manager at SARS, said: “Even though everyone’s attention is understandably focused on the COVID-19 outbreak, other emergencies are still happening and these critically ill and injured patients still require help.


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“Our clinician’s additional skills, specialist equipment and drugs can make a real difference to these patients and help save lives.

“The current situation is very challenging and of course we are having to take additional precautions to protect the welfare of our clinicians and the patients they treat. However we remain determined to keep our service running.”

The charity said it is sourcing additional stocks of personal protective equipment and has restricted much of its non-clinical activity to help mitigate the risk of spreading the virus. MORE: Suffolk Accident Rescue Service reports increase in call outs and donationsJames Whatling, SARS chairman, said owing to the fact that a significant amount of regular income comes from fundraising events, the coronavirus crisis is likely to see them lose 50% of projected funding.

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“Like many small to medium sized organisations we are finding things incredibly difficult at the moment,” he said.

“We rely on voluntary fundraising and donations in order that our volunteers can continue to provide their expertise to the people of Suffolk at times of their greatest need, at no cost to the individual or to the tax payer.

“A significant level of our regular income is from events run by ourselves, or by our many supporters across the Suffolk community.

“Due to COVID 19 we are likely to see up to fifty percent of our projected income affected.

“We would like to appeal for the public’s help to maintain our life-saving activity throughout these difficult times, perhaps by way of a one-off donation or by setting up a regular standing order. We are truly grateful for any help that you are able to offer.”

Anyone wishing to donate to the Suffolk Accident Rescue Service can click here to visit the charity’s website.

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