The RNLI St Peter Port Lifeboat, Brechou Chief and Access Challenger have all been deployed in recent weeks on medical missions for Guernsey’s ambulance service as relief vessels while the St John marine ambulance Flying Christine III has been out of service.
In the most recent cases the Lifeboat responded to Sark for a Category One medical emergency and a traumatic injury in Herm and the Brechou Chief was deployed for an injured patient in Sark.
In total since February the Lifeboat has been dispatched with an ambulance service medical team on board on a total of fourteen occasions, with nine missions to Sark, three to Herm and one to a visiting cruise ship. The majority of cases attended by the Lifeboat were for serious or life-threatening medical conditions.
The Brechou Chief has been deployed to twice to Herm and once to Sark for three less urgent medical cases or transfers.
The Access Challenger has also been used on one occasion for a medical case in Sark.
The relief vessels were made available under existing and previous used contingency plans which were enacted when a mechanical fault was discovered during routine annual maintenance of the Flying Christine III in February.
Stuart Malley, Operations Lead at St John Ambulance & Rescue Service (SJARS) said: “We would like to acknowledge to help and co-operation of the RNLI volunteers and the crews of the Brechou Chief and Access Challenger who have assisted the ambulance service while the Flying Christine is out of service. The Flying Christine is thirty years old next year and was originally built with a thirty year design life. While the vessel is well maintained, the global supply chain crisis has resulted in long delays in obtaining parts from the USA. We have had superb support and service from the local marine industry, but the availability of the parts has been out of our control.”SJARS Chief Executive Officer, Mark Mapp added: “The fact that there have been eighteen marine ambulance missions so far this year proves the need for a dedicated marine ambulance. We are extremely grateful for the crews of the relief vessels for their ongoing support which has enabled us to continue to provide an essential emergency service for the Bailiwick, however we are aware that in most cases the Flying Christine offers better a overall patient experience and enhanced quality of care, with specially designed clinical area, including a fitted ambulance stretcher and inbuilt medical equipment, which replicates the saloon of a road ambulance. As the Flying Christine III nears her thirtieth birthday, we are evaluating the most cost-effective way of extending her design life with additional built-in resilience which will reduce the challenges associated with the availability of spare parts.”
The marine ambulance was originally built thanks to public donations and sponsorship and was launched in 1994 by the Duke of Gloucester. The vessel is operated by expert volunteers and crewed by professional paramedic-led medical teams from Guernsey’s emergency ambulance service, providing pre-hospital paramedic care and the ability to deliver advanced life support for the islands of the Bailiwick.