Rapid Response Vehicles (RRVs) are designed to reach the patient as soon as possible. They are usually smaller vehicles that can travel through traffic faster than an ambulance. Our RRVs are staffed by one qualified paramedic who is qualified to administer life-saving treatment at the scene.
RRVs can be sent ahead of an ambulance, or can treat the patient alone, depending on the necessity of the situation.
Response delivered by paramedics operating in Rapid Response Vehicles (RRVs) is a recognised method of delivering early clinical intervention throughout the UK. NIAS has successfully utilised RRVs since early 2003 and RRVs provided a significant contribution to the improvement in NIAS Category A performance figures in 2007/08.
If a patient has experienced a significant accidental injury or has a life-threatening medical condition that could lead to cardiac arrest and death, then early clinical intervention is absolutely crucial. A very significant proportion of calls attended to by paramedics operating in RRVs receive a response within the 8 minute target by which NIAS is measured.
When an RRV is despatched to a life-threatening emergency call, an emergency ambulance is also sent. The RRV paramedic can undertake any and all of the skills available to any paramedic and will provide life sustaining care including defibrillation, airway protection and drug administration until the emergency ambulance arrives. This early intervention may well make the difference between life and death and will certainly ensure that patients and their relatives are confident that all that can be done is, or has been, done.
Paramedics operating in RRVs also have a key role to play in managing demand; not only are they frequently well positioned and effective at providing the early and crucial clinical intervention in the case of immediately life-threatening calls, but they are also able to attend our Category C less serious calls and arrange for a more appropriate care pathway for the patient, including transportation, if required.
The benefits of RRVs:
- RRVs are mobilised and ready to respond to 999 calls more quickly than emergency ambulances.
- RRVs achieve a sub-8 minute response time to 999 calls more often than emergency ambulances.
- The RRVs are only unavailable while awaiting an ambulance. Once it has arrived the RRV Paramedic may stay and help but is effectively free to respond to any other 999 calls in the area.
- An RRV Paramedic can prepare a patient for transport – thus the ambulance is on-scene for a shorter time and is on the call for a shorter time.
- An RRV is on a call for less time than an emergency ambulance which has to transport the patient to hospital before it can be considered available again.
- Consequently the RRVs are actually available to 999 calls for a greater proportion of their working day.
- Often an RRV paramedic will attend a patient who does not need to travel to hospital by emergency ambulance. Following assessment and discussion with the patient the emergency ambulance can be cancelled and alternative arrangements made.