Campaign to save lives
PUBLISHED: 18:00 20 January 2015 | UPDATED: 09:08 22 January 2015
A TEAM of doctors who provide urgent hospital care at the most serious accidents across North Somerset is appealing for more equipment to help save lives.
SAVES - Somerset Accident Voluntary Emergency Service - has four highly-trained doctors who give up their free time to attend major incidents all over Somerset.
The volunteers are able to carry out surgical procedures on the scene and administer stronger painkillers than paramedics and ambulance crews can give.
The medical professionals, who also hold down day jobs, have treated casualties at some of the most high profile accidents in the county including the M5 crash near Taunton in 2011.
The doctors rely on a selection of equipment they carry in their own cars, but the volunteers are now hoping to raise £20,000 for new high-tech monitors to enable them to provide a higher level of care to patients and check how they are responding to treatment.
The Mercury’s sister paper, the North Somerset Times, has teamed up with SAVES to launch a campaign to help raise the funds and also boost awareness of the charity.
Jackie Collings, fundraising manager for SAVES, said: “Our four doctors cover the whole of Somerset on top of their day jobs in their own cars.
“GPs have very stressful jobs in the day and for them to do this in their own time in their own vehicle is huge.
“We have an excellent ambulance service, excellent paramedics and excellent hospital care but we have a gap in the market.
“We bridge the void we’ve got between the incident and the emergency department by taking hospital treatment to the scene.
“None of us ever knows when we are going to need them. I’m just very grateful they do it.”
SAVES comes under the umbrella of BASICS South West - British Association for Immediate Care - and the doctors go through extensive training before they are able to respond to call-outs.
Despite providing a crucial link between the hospital and the scene of an accident, there is only one doctor covering the whole of North Somerset and South Bristol.
Dr Matthew Booker, from Nailsea, works as a GP in South Bristol and a researcher in pre-hospital and urgent care at the University of Bristol, as well as volunteering for SAVES.
His patch includes every town and village north of Taunton including Burnham, Weston, Cheddar and out to South Bristol.
He said: “I got involved to try to offer some further enhanced skills to fill the gap.
“The paramedic crews do an extremely good job in some very challenging circumstances but sometimes they do need some extra skills that only a doctor can bring - anaesthesia, advanced pain killers or surgical procedures.
“I probably average about two call-outs a week. Our charity fills a gap, particularly with the pressures the ambulance services are facing.”
SAVES is always keen to hear from doctors interested in training to become volunteers.
The charity is always grateful for donations to pay for equipment which needs replacing after each incident such as needles, pelvic splints and cannulas.
It also costs £5,000 to train and equip a new doctor.
Any individuals or businesses interested in donating to the cause, holding an event or making SAVES their charity of the year, can email Jackie at firstname.lastname@example.org