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Magpas: saving lives with a BMW 5 Series Touring

Elms BMW is an enthusiastic supporter of Magpas – The Emergency Medical Charity. Magpas sends its teams of doctors and paramedics by car or helicopter to serious incidents across the east of England.

Since December last year, Elms Cambridge has supplied the charity with a BMW 530d SE Touring to use as a rapid response vehicle. Last week, Elms Direct had the chance to catch up with Dan Read, one of the highly trained paramedics who drives the BMW to emergencies all over the region.

Elms Direct: “How long have you been involved with Magpas?”

Dan Read: “I’ve been a volunteer with Magpas for two years. Having working alongside Magpas in my normal ambulance role I was very excited by what they did and wanted to join the team. In my day job I’m an NHS paramedic responding to 999 calls in an ambulance car. I then cover at least three or four shifts for Magpas each month.”

Elms Direct: “What extra training did you have before joining Magpas?”

Dan Read: “There was a intensive training course run by Magpas covering pre-hospital emergency anesthesia and critical care.”

Elms Direct: “What about driver training?”

Dan Read: “Part of my NHS training was a three-week advanced course, which included blue-light driving.”

Elms Direct: “Talk us through a typical shift at Magpas.”

Dan Read: “When we arrive in the morning, our first tasks are to prepare the car and aircraft for deployment. We load up the car with a defibrillator and suction unit, plus all our equipment which is contained in three large bags. The anesthetic drugs have to be prepared and we make sure all our kit is serviceable and ready to use. Everyone dresses in the appropriate PPE, then inform our control room that we are ready to go. We’re then on standby waiting for the call.”

Elms Direct: “Is there a lot of waiting around?”

Dan Read: “There’s always something to do. We have to carry out rigorous checks on our equipment at least twice a day. That might mean checking through a full bag inspecting every last item and making sure all the drugs we carry are within their expiry date. Or we might do a stock check of all our spares, or service our electrical equipment. We need to make sure that we’re ready to go at a moment’s notice and that everything is ready for the next shift.”

Elms Direct: “How often are you called out?”

Dan Read: “It’s hard to say. Some days go by and we don’t get on a job. On other shifts we might get three or four. At the moment we’re very busy, and can expect at least one or two jobs a day.”

Elms Direct: “Who decides if Magpas is called out?”

Dan Read: “Within the 999 emergency control centre there’s someone monitoring all the jobs which come in. They have contact with the ambulance crews on scene and will call us in if needed.”

Elms Direct: “How do you decide whether to drive or fly to an incident?”

Dan Read: “If we think there’s a time advantage to flying by helicopter, we will. If not, we’ll drive. The aircraft doesn’t fly at night at the moment and may not be able to respond in bad weather.”

Elms Direct: “What makes the 5 Series Touring well suited to being a rapid response vehicle?”

Dan Read: “A number of things. Performance is very important to us, and the mid-range power is great. In the regular ambulance service we find that car drivers often don’t realise that our cars aren’t the most powerful in the world. They slow down a little rather than pulling over completely, thinking we can zoom past them. The BMW has so much mid-range that we can safely overtake quickly. The brakes are also much better than those of a standard rapid response vehicle. I’ve never experience brake fade with the BMW, which I do regularly with other ambulance cars. The size of the car is ideal, too, as there’s enough room for all our kit – and we have a lot. The 5 Series also handles very well. I feel that we can drive around hazards quickly and safely.”

Elms Direct: “What modifications have you made to the car?”

Dan Read: “Apart from our communications equipment, the livery and lights, it’s a standard BMW 530d SE Touring.”

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