"Volunteer Doctors Saving Lives in their Local Community" with BEEP Doctors Cumbria
Whether it's at the scene of a road traffic accident or in someone's home during a life-threatening emergency, BEEP Doctors Cumbria's team of volunteer doctors are on call 24/7 to provide enhanced pre-hospital care in medical emergencies. Robin was joined by Dr. Chris Moss to learn all about the UK charity and how they use D4H to keep their team organized and ready to respond.
What is the role of BEEP Doctors Cumbria?
Beep Doctors (BASICs) Cumbria is a charity, which brings emergency medical care to the patient. Whether that is on the roadside at the scene of a road traffic accident or in your home during a life-threatening emergency, their team of volunteer doctors is on call 24 hours 7 days a week to provide enhanced clinical care in medical emergencies. In 2021, their team of dedicated doctors attended over 300 emergency callouts across Cumbria.
BEEP Doctors was set up 25 years ago by Dr. Theo Weston in a small town called Penrith. As the local GP, he set the charity up to help and support accidents and incidents on the M6 motorway. Since then, the charity has expanded and they now cover the whole of Cumbria. When it first started 25 years ago, BEEP Doctors stood for Bringing Emergency Equipment to Burbank. Nowadays, BEEP is part of BASICS UK, which is the British Association for Immediate Care.
All of the doctors within BEEP Doctors Cumbria are pre-hospital trained and work in critical care, anesthetics, emergency care, or they are a GP with extensive pre-hospital experience. Currently, there are 14 active doctors on the team.
Where does the team operate?
BEEP Doctors operates in Cumbria, in the North West of England. This is located in the middle of one of the UK’s largest national parks, the Lake District. The area is very mountainous and draws in many hikers. The terrain of the area can present challenges when it comes to responding to emergencies in remote areas.
How are they tasked?
When someone phones 999 a certain code is generated depending on the type of incident. BEEP Doctors Cumbria has certain codes that they respond to, so when one of those codes is generated the team receives an automatic text message alerting them of the incident. BEEP Doctors will then contact the ambulance control room to determine whether they require additional medical assistance as well as paramedic assistance. The team can also be tasked by an ambulance crew if they arrive at the scene of an incident that has not been coded correctly due to a miscommunication from the 999 caller.
When they receive the pager text message the volunteer doctors will immediately start travelling to the scene while they are liaising with the ambulance control room. It is better that they respond as soon as possible and they can be stood down if necessary, rather than them waiting for confirmation that they are needed.
What types of emergencies do they respond to?
BEEP Doctors respond to a large variety of incidents from adventure sporting injuries up in the mountains to road traffic accidents involving vehicles or cyclists. They also respond to people’s homes for certain medical emergencies like heart attacks.
How does the team communicate during an emergency?
The team uses Airwave sets to communicate. This is a cell-based radio network that is also used by the police, fire, and ambulance services in the UK. When responding to an event, BEEP Doctors that are responding are added to a specific airwave channel for the incident with all other responding services. This means that while they are traveling to an incident they are being kept up to date so that when they arrive at the scene they already have a good situational awareness.
When dealing with multi-agency incidents it’s important to keep communications as simple and streamlined as possible. For internal communication, BEEP Doctors find that their WhatsApp group works very well for coordinating responses. BEEP Doctors can’t have too many people responding to a callout, as they need to add value to a scene rather than overload it.
The BEEP Doctors vehicles
When the team originally started, they had a Land Rover that they used for responses. This eventually had to be retired and for a couple of years, the doctors used their own vehicles to attend an incident. They found this didn’t work very well for responding in remote locations with harsh terrain. They also found that being in an unmarked car when trying to reach an accident on the M6 motorway was not ideal.
Last year, the team received a kind donation of a new vehicle, XC1 which has made a great difference to their responses. They plan to expand their fleet over the coming year to 10 vehicles. In the next few weeks, they expect to receive three new vehicles which a local company will sponsor the costs of.
All of the doctors in the organization are blue light trained and the cars have a ventilator, state of the art monitoring, and medications onboard.
Working alongside air ambulances
The air ambulances that cover Cumbria are North West Air Ambulance and the Great North Air Ambulance Service. BEEP Doctors work alongside the air ambulance services very well. From a tasking point of view, the helicopter can fly during daylight in good weather, so BEEP Doctors can provide additional services when the helicopter cannot fly such as during bad weather or at nighttime. The air ambulances have also started responding by car on Friday and Saturday night so the two teams work closely together to provide the fastest and most efficient response to an emergency.
What equipment do they bring to an emergency?
Each of the doctors has their kit bag with extra procedural equipment, this might include equipment for an amputation or other invasive procedures. They also carry more comprehensive ventilators and they’ve just received a generous donation of 7 brand new state-of-the-art Schiller Touch 7s. These monitors are French made and they monitor the patient’s vital signs, their Co2, their invasive or non-invasive blood pressure, and it also acts as a defibrillator.
What training do they do?
The team meets every month to review each of the cases they have responded to. Pre-hospital care is a sub-specialty just like any other medical sub-specialty, so the team is very careful about who they take onto the team to make sure they are adequately qualified in pre-hospital care. Members also undergo regular training to keep their pre-hospital care skills up to date.
Do they do joint training with other services?
The team recognizes how important joint training is, it has been difficult to arrange joint training with other emergency services in the last couple of years due to COVID-19. It’s something that they are looking to develop further this year. They will do joint training with the police, fire, mountain rescue, search and rescue, and ambulance services.
How BEEP Doctors came to use D4H
A couple of years ago, BEEP Doctors Cumbria decided they wanted to improve their documentation and records management. A neighboring team in Cheshire was using D4H and recommended that BEEP Doctors look into it. They now use D4H for recording and documenting all of their callouts, managing their equipment, and managing their personnel.
D4H has made it easy to keep our personnel current. It has totally revolutionized everything we’re doing.
Dr. Chris Moss, BEEP Doctors Cumbria.
Favourite part of D4H?
Before the team started with D4H, they found it difficult to have accountability between the medical team to find information about what jobs had happened in the region.
Now with D4H, we can learn, challenge and reflect on jobs that have happened in the region. This has allowed for an open culture of how we look at callouts and documentation. From a learning point of view, it’s great to see how others are managing jobs.
Dr. Chris Moss, BEEP Doctors Cumbria.
The other thing the team has benefitted from is improved stock management of drugs.
The other great thing about D4H is the stock management. If we’ve used drugs at an incident it’s all recorded in D4H and is associated with that callout. It really helps with cost recovery and planning.”
Dr. Chris Moss, BEEP Doctors Cumbria.