WHEN most people think of emergency services, the Fire Brigade, Ambulance Service or Police Force come to mind.
But for the past 20 years, Dr Alan Pearce, a GP at the Seaforth Farm Surgery in Hailsham, has been working with emergency care charity, The South East Coast Immediate Care Scheme (SIMCAS) to bring life-saving care to victims of major trauma in his community.
As well as seeing patients at his practice, the father-of-two is one of 15 specially-trained doctors across the South East who are mobilised at the scene of an accident or emergency when requested by the fire, police or ambulance Services.
SIMCAS volunteers, including GPs, nurses and consultants, undergo specialist medical and driver training so they can respond to emergencies in their own vehicles. They can be called out 24 hours a day to anything from a car accident to a fire or explosion.
Dr Pearce, now the chairman of SIMCAS, first began working for the charity organisation more than 20 years ago and has undergone training exercises with the Coastguard and police force, including being winched over Beachy Head.
“When I heard about SIMCAS I thought, ‘that looks interesting, I’d like to do that.’” he said. “It is very different from my day job.
“The most difficult thing over the years is dealing with children, that can be quite upsetting if they are seriously injured. After a while the training kicks in and you do what you have to do to get the benefit to the patient.
“Ninety-nine per cent of the time paramedics can do a great job, but whereas paramedics are limited by protocols, we can do whatever we feel is right at the time,” he added.
When the service first started 20 years ago, there was no facility for doctors to be called to emergencies. Now the charity sends specialists to about 500 incidents per year.However, because the service is not funded by the NHS, it relies on public donations to train new recruits.
“It takes about £20,000 to put a new doctor on the road, from fitting out the car with blue lights and sirens to providing expensive medical equipment like defibrillators,” said Dr Pearce. “We’ve got more people who want to start but this is all funded through the charity so we can’t just take on a new doctor. In an ideal world there would be more money for this sort of thing but the local community needs to support the service if they want to see it continue,” he added.