Armed Forces Week - Military Co-Response Teams

Co responding team

As part of Armed Forces Week, Ian Stocker, RAF Marham Co-Response Team Leader, provides further details on the RAF Marham Co-Response Team. 

Providing a rapid response to patient’s requiring urgent medical attention in very rural areas has always been difficult, but over the past 20 years, a partnership with the RAF base at Marham, has been a real boost to the service we provide for our patients in Norfolk.

In 2001, the NHS in partnership with Royal Air Force Units, created RAF Co-Response Teams to tackle the problem of responding to patients in rural areas who required urgent assistance. Here at EEAST, we’re lucky enough to have the support of the RAF Marham Co-Response Team helping us to care for our patients in the Norfolk area. 

The team is tasked by the AOC and works alongside our own frontline staff, dealing with life threatening and high priority calls for both adults and paediatric patients. Working as a dedicated two-person team they triage casualties, provide first aid and condition updates and assist other medical professionals on their arrival, whether that’s ambulance crews, Critical Care Team, Norfolk Accident Rescue Service (NARS), Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) or the Air Ambulance.

The RAF Marham team currently consists of 29 team members (two recently completing their course), and future recruitment is already underway. The team spends much of their time supporting EEAST and the demand from 999/111 calls. This includes maximising the use of the RAF Marham double-staffed ambulance (DSA)/ Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV), not only carrying out regular six hour shifts after work during the week, but 12 hours shifts over weekends, bank holidays and weekdays when available. During a typical night shift, they may be called anywhere from March to Dereham and Hunstanton to Littleport, King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth. 

Team members often work a full day shift with the RAF, then change uniforms and work a 6-7 shift or 12 hours over a weekend, sometimes more whilst on a call, before returning to their normal job. They also volunteer, in co-ordination with EEAST, to cover sporting events, station events and bonfire night as well as attending road traffic collision training days with the local Fire Service and major emergency services exercises.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, the RAF Marham Co-Response Team was called on to provide urgent support to colleagues from EEAST. All team members attended an intensive course to quickly increase their skills to that of a full-time ambulance clinician, preparing them for the next three months on the NHS frontline. Working various shifts in a rota planned by the trust, they manned two fully equipped DSAs and an RRV on Emergency Ops. In total they completed 266 shifts, over 3000 hrs and attended 732 emergency calls.

The Marham team has provided really valuable support to colleagues within the Trust, both in rural areas and within the more residential areas of Norfolk as well and they are an important member of the emergency response team family. 

Published 25th June 2021