Message in a bottle could save lives

Michael Wilson, chief executive at East Surrey Hospital'JPCO
Michael Wilson, chief executive at East Surrey Hospital'JPCO

A scheme to help the emergency services find crucial personal information was launched last week at Steyning Health Centre.

The ‘Message in a Bottle’ campaign encourages residents to keep their basic personal and medical details in a common place where they can easily be found by emergency services.

Steyning Area First Response team

Steyning Area First Response team

Last year, doctors at the Health Centre approached Martin Leigh-Pollitt of the Steyning Area First Responders (SAFeR) and suggested that the scheme could assist the responders and other emergency services when patients fall ill.

Mr Leigh-Pollitt explained: “It is an easy way of ensuring that not only our local Responder Team but also other emergency services have easy and immediate access to crucial patient information at their home.”

It is simple, the householder fills in a form with the details and puts this into a plastic bottle. The bottle is then kept in the fridge, where the emergency services will expect to find it in the event of being called to the property.

They will know you have a bottle by two labels - one is fixed on the inside of the front door or the main entrance to your home and the other to the door of your fridge.

“Emergency services are all aware of the scheme and are alerted to the bottle by these stickers.”

SAFeR arranged the scheme alongside the Chanctonbury Lions and the Wilson Memorial Trust at no cost to residents.

The groups are currently spreading the word to show people the importance of taking part.

He continued: “Without this information, if for example the patient is unconscious, it can be difficult to fully assess the situation and minutes are crucial in an emergency.”

SAFeR volunteers provide an essential immediate service to support the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb).

“Ambulances are not always in close proximity to answer emergency calls in rural areas like Steyning, Bramber and Upper Beeding.

“Because responders are already living or working in the community, they can get to the location vital minutes earlier.”

It is in this time slot that responders can potentially save someone’s life and the ‘Message in a Bottle’ scheme will help services act faster.

“Patients’ chances of recovery significantly increase.

“This bottle scheme can help by ensuring background information is readily available to the responders.

“It can help save lives and it is freely available to all those living in the area.”