Throughout the country every day of the year voluntary BASICS practitioners are requested to attend accidents or sudden illness by the Emergency Services. We often provide levels of knowledge, skills and equipment beyond those available to those already on scene. Sometimes our presence can be life-saving, often it is to give pain relief, always it is to work with the Emergency Services to give the best possible care outside hospital to the sick and injured.
We work amongst the blood, the mud, and the broken bones, often in bad weather, caring for our patients. Frequently we use equipment more appropriate to the battle-field than the hospital. Not NHS standard, this equipment usually has to be bought by the BASICS scheme.
BASICS is not funded by the NHS in any way whatsoever. The members volunteer to attend accidents and medical emergencies at the request of the Ambulance Service, and have to undertake training in driving, safety, accident management and out of hospital emergency medical techniques.
They may turn out day or night in all weathers and conditions when the Air Ambulance cannot fly and frequently go to incidents where it cannot land. They are often required when patients with chest injuries need helicopter evacuation.
They wear bright fluorescent suits and use blue lights and sirens on their cars to reach the emergencies they attend, to the general public though, they may as well be invisible. The problem is BASICS blends in with the Emergency Services so well people do not realise that we are the voluntary charitable part of the response.
In the last year we have attended road and rail accidents as well as aircraft emergencies, fires, chemical incidents, firearms incidents and stabbings to name but a few.
We are mobilised by pager on the basis of the details given to Ambulance Control by the person making the 999 call, or at the request of the ambulance crew on scene. Our partners watch us disappear from family meals, shopping trips, nights out and “hold the fort” until we return. They accept a car full of medical equipment, but always worry until we return safely. They often don’t get back to sleep when we are called out in the small hours.