Stuart’s Story is the first of our 2019 Volunteer Story winners.
Paul’s Story will appear on 8th June and Ruth’s on 15th June.
I started volunteering with BASICS Essex Accident Rescue Service in 2017. BEARS is a group of volunteer doctors and critical care paramedics accredited by the British Association for Immediate Care (BASICS) who respond to critically ill and injured patients throughout Essex. We work closely with crews from the NHS ambulance service as part of a larger network of pre-hospital care in the East of England.
BEARS doctors and paramedics bring advanced skills and treatment that you’d normally find in a hospital emergency department. We operate in a similar way to the air ambulance teams but the big difference, (apart from the helicopter!) is that BEARS medics give their time completely voluntarily. Our medics are dispatched to callouts from the ambulance service either from home in their own blue light equipped cars or as a team using our own marked response vehicle with the call-sign “Medic 24”. BEARS pays for their equipment but doesn’t receive any statutory funding and therefore we rely on the kind donations of local supporters and businesses to keep us going.
In my everyday job as a student paramedic I get to see how important it is to have advanced medical skills available outside of the hospital, especially in a life-or-death emergency. My Father-in-law is a doctor within the charity and I was able to get involved when they were looking for someone to support the Chairman with admin duties.
My role within BEARS is not out there looking after patients but involves administration behind the scenes on the clinical operations side of the charity. I assist with recruitment and record keeping, ensuring the response car is kept operational and that equipment and consumables are stocked up. I oversee the Facebook page to further promote the charity and this also lets my ambulance colleagues know when the response car is available to call on. I’m there to lend a hand with fundraising events where I can and you might see me at local community events showing off the response car and some of the equipment we carry.
“Volunteering has brought benefits to me in both my personal and professional life.”
I’ve built personal confidence and I’m learning leadership and organisational skills from doing things I wouldn’t normally need to do. I’m also gaining in my professional life by being able to work closely with and learn from a fantastic group of clinicians that I respect hugely. When I qualify as a Paramedic I’d really like to work towards those additional qualifications that will allow me to volunteer as a responder as well.
For me, the biggest benefit of being part of BEARS is the knowledge that I’m helping to keep these doctors and paramedics doing what they do best, and that means I’m indirectly helping to provide that care to those who I know really need it most.