I want to be a BASICS Responder, but . . .

One of the commonest ‘grumbles’ we read and hear is that members of BASICS are not able to become responders for their local BASICS Scheme. If this is you, or you are hoping to become a BASICS responder, please read on:

First and foremost, being a member of BASICS does not equate to going on to become a BASICS responder with your local Scheme. All BASICS Schemes are independent, autonomous organisations. BASICS itself is a membership organisation to which the Schemes are affiliated. Whilst being a member of BASICS nationally has a number of benefits in developing your interest in prehospital care, the automatic right to join a Scheme and respond is not one of them.

The local Schemes, with the exception of one (which is a crowd medical service at a football club), work with their local NHS Ambulance Trust. Their services are best described as those of a ‘sub-contractor’, in that they provide focused voluntary resources within the confines of a locally determined service level agreement/memorandum of understanding. This includes, in many instances, individual responders holding an honorary contract/volunteer agreement with their local NHS Ambulance Trust for whom they respond.

These local agreements specify what level of responders are required, their skill sets and the way that they will respond. This means that different areas of the country have very different requirements depending on local circumstances. Some Schemes respond primarily as a team in a marked vehicle, whilst others utilise individual members in their own specially equipped cars. In some areas it’s only doctors that respond and in some of these only particular specialties or grades are recruited. In other areas there is a wider membership that includes nurses and paramedics. Primarily though, whatever their professional background, BASICS responders need to extend and compliment local NHS Ambulance resources within the wider response team.

As with any other organisation, voluntary or otherwise, local recruitment policies reflect the service level agreements and current geographical requirements. Key aspects are experience, training and the willingness to undertake further training, after all, it’s expensive to train and equip a BASICS responder. Beyond that there is then a commitment to work within the Schemes agreed governance structure regarding clinical practice and professional development.

By the very nature of the work becoming a BASICS responder is a highly sought-after role. For those wanting to develop and potentially become a BASICS responder here are some helpful pointers:

  1. Get lots of clinical experience. The types of patients we see are very unwell and require confident, competent senior clinicians.
  2. Gain experience of the broader prehospital world and its work. There are multiple routes and they include St John Ambulance, the British Red Cross, the military (regular and the reserve), event medicine, community responding etc.
  3. Keep your skills and knowledge up-to-date. Undertake relevant courses to gain insights and learn from prehospital practitioners. This will give you a variety of insights and ‘push the bubble’.

BASICS responders, no matter what their skill set, or background need to be highly experienced clinicians. They need to be well respected and in good standing with their professional bodies, the NHS Ambulance Trust to which they would be affiliated as well as their colleagues (BASICS, air-ambulance, ambulance etc). A very significant part of a BASICS responders’ role is in providing clinical insight, leadership and to work seamlessly within the gathered emergency services team.

Like any other job or role, it’s important to recognise that personal aspirations do not necessarily equate to being well suited to that role. On occasions this can be due to some of the constraints from the local service level agreements, sometimes it’s because the Scheme team has a particular ethos or culture, sometimes it’s because there is no requirement in your locality, and sometimes it is because the individual does not have the skillset and/or experience required.

However, for those who are not able to be responders at this time, we truly hope that this does not diminish your intertest in prehospital care. BASICS strives to represent pre-hospital care across the UK, and fully encourages interested parties to expand their interest by joining our Membership.

From access to lower-cost training courses to networking with like-minded professionals at our Annual Conference, BASICS exists to help raise the standards of immediate care, and works hard to offer membership benefits that will aid the development of individuals and schemes nationwide.

Leave a Reply