Norfolk lifesaving charity launches first rapid response vehicle

Norfolk Accident Rescue Service.

Norfolk Accident Rescue Service. - Credit: Archant

A new era has begun for a lifesaving charity after a major fundraising appeal helped Norfolk Accident Rescue Service (NARS) buy its first rapid response vehicle.

Norfolk Accident Rescue Service.

Norfolk Accident Rescue Service. - Credit: Archant

The charity's volunteer medics have been providing expert help at emergencies across Norfolk for more than 40 years.

However, the organisation has boosted its profile after launching its maiden response vehicle, thanks to donations and fundraising from members of the public.

Officials from the charity spoke of their delight after they hit the halfway mark of the £100,000 Cars for NARS fundraising appeal, which was launched earlier this year.

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More than £50,000 has been donated to the appeal since April, which has allowed the charity to buy a secondhand Audi Quattro Allroad, which has been fitted out with blue lights and NARS livery.

For the last 44 years, volunteers from the charity have attended serious road traffic collisions and emergencies in their own cars. But from later this month, they will man the new car on a rota basis, which will be based at Dereham ambulance station for initially three nights a week.

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Paul Strutt, spokesman for NARS, said the charity currently has 14 doctors and paramedics who attend around eight emergencies a week after being requested by the East of England Ambulance Service's Critical Care Desk.

However, they hope to help more critically ill patients when their rapid response vehicle (RRV) becomes operational.

'It is the first time in 43 years that NARS has had its own response vehicle. It is a huge milestone.

'The responders have always left from home or their surgery in their own cars fitted with blue lights and on an ad-hoc basis if they could be contacted and are in a place to respond. We will have one or more in the vehicle in their uniforms ready to go Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 5.30pm to 1am.

'If we get more available, we can expand that and we have 50 paramedics that want to progress as paramedics to critical care paramedics,' he said.

The charity received donations of £4,000 from the O2 store in Norwich following a fundraiser and £5,000 from the Santander Foundation. They were also recently boosted by a £10,000 anonymous donation.

Mr Strutt added that the appeal would continue to buy vital equipment such as a £10,000 automated cardiac pump. A new sweepstake, with cash prizes four times a month, has been launched by NARS to help generate more income.

'We desperately need the funds to keep it [the RRV] running and maintain it and there is still a lot more equipment we need and still looking for £60,000 worth of equipment and we are not there yet. One of the best ways they can help is the sweepstake,' he said.

Iain Temperton, road safety manager at Norfolk County Council, added: 'There are a lot of organisations involved in the casualty reduction business, but organisations like NARS help at the point of crisis. When it goes badly wrong, when we are lying at the side of the road, in desperate need of help, these people will be there to assist. They work with other professionals, are highly skilled and frankly - we need them.'

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