Our volunteers come from all backgrounds and bring various skill sets, but they all have one thing in common. They all contribute in their own way to saving lives.
Below you will hear from one of our Sandpiper BASICS responders. In his own words, David explains the importance of our work in his rural community and what it means to him personally.
We’d also like you to meet Jackie Henry, who volunteers for us on the fundraising front. Jackie has supported some of our larger community events, making sure that these fundraisers are a huge success.
I am one of many Sandpiper Responders across Scotland. I offer my situation as a typical example of why the Sandpiper Trust works so well to support us rural GPs in Scotland.
On Arran we have one ambulance available at any one time, and it is used for emergency and non-emergency patient transport. It takes two hours to drive around Arran, and our population rises from 5,000 to 25,000 over seasonal periods such as Easter, Summer and Christmas. We see lots of outdoor activity enthusiasts on Arran – cyclists, hillwalkers, paragliders – and like many parts of Scotland, we are seeing our population become more elderly and medically complex.
Our full team is Sandpiper equipped
Our full team of GPs – along with one of our Practice Nurses with expertise in emergency care – are equipped with Sandpiper Kit. Being island responders, we are given extra resources which means typical kit will cost more than £3000 per responder. Three of us are mapped onto the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) system. I carry an airwave radio and a smartphone that allows me to be tracked wherever my car goes – and to book on and off depending on other commitments.
If SAS require support – if Arran’s only ambulance is busy with another call, if there are multiple casualties, or if the crew have requested medical support – they will contact us by phone or radio, often using the map to see if anyone is closest and available. Failing that, SAS will tend to call our community hospital to see if a response can be coordinated from there.
BASICS Scotland training includes not only advanced emergency medical care, but considerations about driving safely, providing a ‘sitrep’ back to ambulance control and keeping the initial scene as safe as possible. Our personal protective equipment includes very high quality hi-vis jackets, which are extremely useful for road accidents and incidents in the open.
The job of a SAS call handler is very difficult, and sometimes it’s tricky to decide how urgently someone needs medical attention. There are occasions when we are asked to assist with someone suspected of being very ill or injured, but being the first ‘eyes on scene’ we can further triage the call. Being volunteers – and that emergency calls can take us away from a busy surgery, family life or time off – SAS tend to be careful and respectful on when we are asked to attend emergencies. However, there’s no doubt that there are occasions when our early attendance can help to stand down limited resources – or indeed scale up a response for patients requiring emergency evacuation by helicopter.
The Sandpiper Trust provides fantastic support
Each year, across Scotland, Sandpiper responders attend thousands of calls. These all depend on voluntary time, along with replacement of items which are used or which expire. Despite this, we continue to receive fantastic support from the Sandpiper Trust, who remain committed to providing us with great quality and often cutting-edge equipment. Sometimes our ambulance colleagues are envious about the quality of the kit we are provided with!
I recently attended my 117th call in the last six years on Arran. These vary from cardiac arrest to road traffic accidents, affecting babies to the elderly. All need our help and thanks to the Sandpiper Trust we are equipped and ready to act as soon as we are needed.
Jackie Henry, Sandpiper Volunteer, Stonehaven.
Jackie has been a vital supporter of the Trust since a personal incident brought us to her attention. Here’s her story.
In November 4 years ago, my best friend Gillian suffered a cardiac arrest, fortunately myself and friend Craig were on hand and after calling an ambulance we started CPR. Unknown to us the ambulance was delayed and the control room arranged for a BASICS trained doctor equipped with a Sandpiper bag to attend. They were able to use a defibrillator and incubate her as she lay in her driveway. They undoubtedly saved her life. She was only 42 years old and with 3 very young children, had so much to look forward to.
Many people assume that an ambulance will be close at hand
I had not previously heard of the Sandpiper Trust and neither had many people I know. I think most people believe if you call an ambulance it will be there within minutes, especially in a town like Stonehaven. In fact, on that day it took around 20 minutes for the paramedics to arrive.
On learning about Sandpiper and the fact it brings the hospital to the patient, especially in rural areas, I wanted to help spread the word about the great work that they do. On meeting Claire, I wanted to do more, she was so generous with her time and lovely words and has helped me so much. I am so honoured to know her and love to help in any small way.
I’m making a real difference
I have been involved in many charity events from taking on personal fundraising challenges to offering support behind the scenes. My friends and I have raised well over £15,000 from doing the Ride the North Cycle event twice for the charity and we hosted a Sandpiper Tea party. I was also involved in organising a CPR course, helped out at the Buckie Harbour Walk and attended community talks with Claire. I look forward to being involved in more because nothing beats the feeling of being able to make a real difference. It’s also my way of saying thank you for saving my best friend.
Without Sandpiper and BASICS trained doctors, Gillian would not be here. It’s taken me a while to realise the impact of what would have happened if everything had not fallen into place that day. I would love people to be more aware of Sandpiper and also of the importance of CPR. Don’t ever give up, there is always hope, keep trying.