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Somerset's heroic doctors need your support
10:00am Monday 21st October 2013 in News
HEROIC doctors who helped at Somerset’s M5 crash tragedy in 2011 desperately hope their fund-raising concert by The Wurzels on November 1 will be a sell-out.
It may now be in its 42nd year but the Somerset Accident Voluntary Em-ergency Service feels most people are unaware it exists – yet its three GP volunteers are poised to help seriously ill accident patients across the county, day and night.
The concert, grand dinner and auction at Somerset County Cricket Ground will be held just short of the second anniversary of the M5 crash tragedy.
SAVES member James Hickman was the first doctor to arrive on the site of the M5 collision, working to support the emergency services in responding to the tragedy in which seven people were killed and 51 injured, on November 4, 2011.
Last year the SAVES doctor won the BBC 999 hero award for his work amputating part of an arm 20ft up a gantry in Somerset.
And last month, Dr Ed Ford was on hand when a motorcyclist died after colliding with a van on Exmoor.
Having trained at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, Ed returned to Somerset, where he works at a surgery in Minehead.
When the countywide call to join SAVES came, Ed knew he had to join, and hasn’t looked back since.
Ed told the Mercury: “I think the appeal of it is that it’s about doing something that’s really rewarding and incredibly different to the day job.
“We are hugely stressed anyway in general practice but the jobs that we do go to for SAVES we get a huge sense of reward and value from.
“It’s incredibly enjoyable working with the paramedics and the police, and the ambulance service is very supportive.
The married father-of-two said: “A lot of what we do, because we are quite remote, is medical – people with chest pain or taking a fall.
“Being local and having a 4x4 means that we get to places that sometimes ambulances aren’t able or available to get to and so it’s a lot more effective for me to help them.”
But with extra responsibility comes extra training, “and lots of training hoops to jump through” to ensure the SAVES trio is able to respond there and then, he added.
“It’s a lot of work. The biggest problem we’ve got is that the day job for most GPs is getting more and more stressful, and more and more intense, and we can’t get GPs to feel they’ve got the time to commit.
“There are doctors out there who are keen to do this sort of work but it’s about how we can support them to do that, understanding the pressure they’re under in their day jobs and practices.
“What’s more, pre-hospital care in the last ten years has moved forward so dramatically because of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which the military have developed.
“They’ve got helicopters going out to the battle scenes with blood products and clotting bandages to treat people immediately.
“That may be a dramatic comparison, but we are playing catch up.
“And, of course, all this extra equipment costs more money.”
Peter Andre, Jenson Button and Les Miserables theatre producer Sir Cameron McIntosh are among the big names who have so far donated auction items for the grand night.
Fundraising is integral to the service’s ability to buy and replace equipment and train new doctors.
Ed added: “It costs between £4,000 and £5,000 to train and equip just one doctor and this is why we are again calling upon the generosity of Somer-set people to support our fundraising evening with The Wurzels.”
Tickets for the event at 7.30pm on Friday, November 1, are £45 from the website at www.saves.org.uk or from Jackie Collings on 07886-630388.