Saving lives - volunteer emergency service is 30 years old

Dr Tim Gray assists paramedics and colleagues from the air ambulance at an accident near Oakham.
Dr Tim Gray assists paramedics and colleagues from the air ambulance at an accident near Oakham.
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If you are injured in a car or rail crash or involved in an industrial accident anywhere in the East Midlands, the emergency services will come to your rescue.

Alongside the ambulance crew, paramedics, fire officers, police and first responders, there will also be East Midlands Immediate Care Scheme, known as Emics - the volunteer doctors’ charity which has proved vital in saving lives in emergency situations.

Emics doctors attended 1200 incidents last year - working alongside the ambulance service - and they will turn out in all weathers at all hours on all 365 days of the year.

The East Midlands Immediate Care Scheme, which grew out of an earlier smaller service started by Rutland GP Dr Tim Gray, has just reached its 30th anniversary.

Dr Gray MBE was recently made EMICS chairman and Dr Leon Roberts MBE, senior medical officer at Kendrew Barracks, Cottesmore, was made a vice-chairman. Dr Roberts is a Lt Col with the Royal Army Medical Corps. He has been involved with EMICS since 2007 and also flies shifts for both local air ambulances.

It was in 1984 that Dr Gray, now a retired partner from Oakham Medical Practice, set up the Rutland Accident Care Scheme (RACS). Ten years ago, when local county ambulance services merged into the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS), the scheme was developed into one covering the whole of the region. It serves the counties of Rutland, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, plus parts of Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire.

“Having worked in A and E as a junior doctor I had developed an interest in the treatment of trauma and during my GP training I attended a lecture about GPs becoming involved in treating road accident victims, especially in rural areas,” Dr Gray said.

“On being appointed a partner in the Oakham Medical Practice in 1980, which was prior to the advent of paramedics, I could see a need for doctors to make themselves available to the ambulance service to help treat seriously injured accident victims.”

He said that although the role of paramedics has expanded over the years and they offer a fantastic service to the majority of injured patients, there are still some treatments that can only be carried out by doctors.

“But I must stress that it is not the doctor saving lives but the team of emergency services on scene working together that makes a difference,” he said.

There are currently 21 doctors on the EMICS rota with another seven in various stages of training. Until recently they have all been men - but the first woman has just been taken on.

On being elected EMICS chairman at the annual meeting in January, Dr Gray said he was pleased to be taking on the role during a period of exciting expansion for the service. He said that a new range of specialised roles within the management structure had been established and a number of young doctors were wanting to join.

“The main challenge of the immediate future is to generate the necessary funds to train and equip these doctors so that we are able to provide better coverage of the area, respond faster to requests from the ambulance service and ultimately provide life-saving care,” he said.

Dr Gray was awarded an MBE in 2004 for services to immediate care.

EMICS doctors are all unpaid volunteers fully trained in trauma work and advanced driving skills. They act as support to the ambulance service in attending emergencies and do this work as well as their normal paid work in hospitals and GP practices. They use their own car and carry a wide range of specialist equipment in order to make life-saving interventions. Equipment, funded by EMICS, ranges from a defibrillator costing £2,000 to an £80 pair of protective boots.

Although all the doctors are volunteers, the scheme is a registered charity and receives no government funding. It needs to continually raise money to maintain equipment and recruit more doctors. Most money comes from donations. It costs in the region of £20,000 a year to run EMICS - but can cost an equal amount to equip just one new doctor, depending on their specialist equipment.

Anyone wishing to donate, or raise funds in any way, is asked to look at the website, or telephone the treasurer Jenny Burgess on 07736 711199. EMICS has a presence on social networking sites Facebook - see Friends of EMICS - and is @emics99 on Twitter.

Typical incidents for the summer of 2013:-

At 11am on Friday, July 12 Dr Gray was called out to a single car collision on the A6003 between Oakham and Manton bridge. He worked with the Emas paramedics, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service and a doctor and flight paramedic from the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance to release and treat two occupants who suffered minor injuries and were transported by land ambulance to Peterborough City Hospital. The road was closed for one and a half hours.

On Sunday, July 14 at 6.15pm Dr Gray was called out to an injured 26-year-old man who had come off his pedal cycle on the A6003 near Manton Bridge, Rutland. He worked with EMAS paramedics and, although the cyclist only sustained minor injuries, he feared there could be a neck injury and the patient was fitted with a surgical collar before being transferred by land ambulance to Peterborough City Hospital.

Just after 3pm on Monday, August 5, Dr Gray and Dr Roberts answered a request from Emas in Uppingham to treat a man in his early 20s seriously injured by being crushed against a wall by his own delivery van. He was treated by Dr Gray while Dr Roberts co-ordinated the emergency services at the scene. After stabilisation, the patient was transferred to a local playing field and flown by the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance to the University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire.

On the morning of Tuesday, August 6, Drs Gray and Roberts were on duty at an incident in Melton Mowbray after cattle escaped from the cattle market and three animals strayed on to a road. A number of people received minor injuries, including a six-year-old child. Emas crews requested the attendance of EMICS doctors because of uncertainty over the nature of potential injuries. The event was also attended by the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance whose crew assessed the child and arranged transfer to hospital by land ambulance. EMAS provided a senior paramedic as incident commander who worked with Leicestershire Police as they took control of the incident. The EMICS doctors supported the incident commander and stayed on scene until the cattle had been captured and safely penned.