The Suffolk Accident Rescue Service (SARS) celebrated its 42nd birthday earlier this week.
The emergency medical charity was launched on the 1st May 1972 and, since then, its volunteer doctors and paramedics have attended nearly 16,000 medical emergencies around Suffolk and neighbouring counties.
The charity was set up to help the statutory emergency services treat those patients who have serious or life-threatening conditions and require immediate medical attention before transfer to hospital.
All SARS doctors and paramedics volunteer their services without charge and the charity is supported entirely by voluntary donations and grants.
Some notable landmarks in the charity’s history include:
•Providing medical cover for Royal visitors arriving by helicopter in Suffolk in 1970s.
•Responding to Major Incidents in Suffolk such as the 1980 coach crash at Capel St Mary where six SARS doctors arrived within minutes after a coach carrying 38 passengers overturned on the A12 south-west of Ipswich.
•Becoming the largest Immediate Care charity in the country in the 1990s with 170 doctors volunteering.
•Welcoming volunteer paramedics into the charity for the first time in 2011.
•Responding to six separate incidents in three different counties with seven different volunteers in the space of 24 hours in 2013.
Dr Andrew Mason, Vice-Chairman of SARS, and the charity’s longest-serving volunteer (1974-) commented: “SARS has seen a lot of changes since it was set up back in the 1970s, and the standard of prehospital care in our region has improved immensely since then.
“Although we now have a smaller number of volunteers, the level of patient care provided is much higher.
“Our volunteers are highly-trained specialists who can sedate patients, administer powerful pain-killing drugs and undertake advanced life-saving procedures before patients reach hospital.
“This year, we are hoping to raise enough money to fund a new emergency team-response vehicle kitted out with a wide range of specialist life-saving equipment, much of which was unavailable 42 years ago.”