Responders are supplied with a mobile phone that is used by ‘Control’ in Lewes to alert them to 999 incidents in their area using voice calls or SMS messaging.
Most of their equipment is carried in a red backpack that opens like a book to lay flat for ease of use. Responders travel to the patient in their own vehicle but may not use blue lights or sirens, and must adhere to all traffic regulations in force locally ie no speeding, jumping traffic lights, double-yellows and so on.
The defibrillator has sticky pads that are attached across an unconscious patient’s chest. The machine analyses the patient’s heart rhythm and issues voice commands to the Responder. Typically the defib will analyse every 2 minutes and then either shock the patient (under the Responder’s final control) or prescribe rescue breaths and chest compressions.
The unit is powered by its own internal battery to make it fully portable. Expected battery life is 4 years.
Responders may administer oxygen as appropriate and we carry a range of single-use masks to best suit the needs of each patient. Oxygen has been found to be highly beneficial in most of the situations to which a Responder might be called. Responders also now carry Salbutamol, which is also very beneficial to patients with breathing difficulties.
We can also administer HypoStop for hypoglycaemic (diabetic) attack and Aspirin in selected cases of chest pain.
Patient care begins as soon as the Responder arrives on the scene. From initial assessment and reassurance through to identifying important information such as scene or patient history, responders can aid the paramedics upon their arrival.
Responders would not be sent to major trauma emergencies, for example road traffic collisions, but they carry a selection of small dressings to allow them to assist patients suffering minor trauma, for example cuts, bruises, fractures and burns.
Patient details are always treated in strict confidence. All active Responders are CRB-checked and subject to annual re-assessment of competence by SECAmb in order to maintain public confidence in the service.
BEAT Responders carry formal SECAmb identity cards and work in pairs wherever possible.