One of my duties is the manning of an RRV or rapid response vehicle.

I was one of the first RRVs some years ago and it was all a great learning curve. Having seen how it was done in the Westcountry Ambulance Service I wanted to use their model. No point in trying to reinvent the wheel.

The cars we used were a hotchpotch of different makes and models. The common denominator was that they were basic family saloon cars. This meant that with all the extra kit which was added to the vehicle electrics; roof mounted strobe/beacon/bluebar/flashers, service radios, Terrafix display, hands free mobile phone kit, suction unit charger, monitor charger etc the vehicle battery could not cope. Which meant if we left the blue lights on at a scene with the engine turned off for more than a few minutes then the battery would fail.

Also they were sluggish to the point of slow motion. Most cars were only 1.4 or 1.6 litre. Now we have Volvos with a higher spec. Audis are also used along with 4×4 vehicles for the more rural areas.

Equipment is the same as you would find on an ambulance apart from the carry chair and the stretcher. Everything else is carried to enable treatment for heart attacks, asthma attacks, trauma, in fact just about all medical emergencies.

You get out of life what you put into it. And I see the role expanding more in the future with more training and role specific vehicles. When I first started on the RRV units I had to undergo further driving training (in addition to the ambulance service driver training) which included extra skidpan work, a 4×4 course and a Blues & Twos run. I also had tuition in solo responding (bearing in mind that we all get used to working as a two man crew).

Things are improving all the time and patients/casualties are receiving quicker attention.

Unfortunately in this day and age RRVs are becoming an increasing target for thieves who break in and steal the satellite navigation systems. A crime like this on an emergency service vehicle should attract tougher sentencing for those perpetrators who are caught.




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