An Early History of Lincolnshire Integrated Emergency Service [LIVES]

by | Jun 8, 2017 | Features, Nettleham LIVES | 0 comments

Dr Michael Cooper, a full-time General Practitioner [GP] partner in the Nettleham Medical Practice from 1965 to 1976 was the co-founder of LIVES, together with Dr Richard Harper-Smith, a GP in Tetford, Horncastle.

In 1965 a horrific accident occurred on the A1 near Catterick, North Yorkshire; there was no doctor available and the casualty died.  This triggered Yorkshire GP, Dr Ken Easton, to develop the service of a voluntary group of doctors who would be available to attend road accidents and provide assistance to the emergency services.

Dr Cooper [Nettleham] and Dr Harper-Smith [Tetford] both had the same idea to develop a similar service in Lincolnshire, and independently visited the Chief Constable within a few days of each other.  They subsequently held an open meeting of doctors to discuss the development of this voluntary service, attended by over 100 doctors who were enthusiastic about setting up a scheme.

As a result, the Lincolnshire Integrated Emergency Service [LIVES] was born, providing medical assistance for road traffic accident victims and supporting the Ambulance, Police and Fire services.

A full scale LIVES rehearsal held at Lodge Lane, Nettleham

In the early days, LIVES had no funds and doctors bought their own equipment. Dr Cooper worked tirelessly in raising funds and awareness of the Scheme, whilst remaining a full-time GP partner in the Nettleham Practice.

A demonstration of the LIVES scheme at Lincolnshire Show, June 1971

LIVES publicity article – courtesy of AA Magazine ‘DRIVE’, 1972

The public, local companies, and institutions responded with donations which enabled a radio communication system to be established to improve call-out times. A combination of telephone and two-way radio communication were introduced, with transmitters at Nettleham Health Centre [then based at East Street, Nettleham] and Pilgrim Hospital, Boston.

Calls would come in to Nettleham Health Centre from the Police or public, and staff there alerted the doctor nearest to the incident. GPs from surrounding practices were actively involved, covering all of the villages within the area.

The radios were also used by the LIVES GPs for Practice calls to be passed on to them whilst out on their domiciliary visits.

Nettleham Health Centre staff pin-pointing the nearest GP to an incident

Dr Cooper did much of the early work of establishing and promoting the scheme, but, when he became ill in 1974, handed over to Dr Harper-Smith.  Dr Cooper remained an active member of LIVES until he sadly died two years later.

In the 1990s LIVES accepted an invitation from Lincolnshire Ambulance Service to integrate LIVES control with Ambulance Control at Bracebridge Heath as part of a computerised Automatic Dispatch System.

In 1990 the Chief Executive of the Ambulance Trust invited LIVES to establish a First Responders Services for suspected heart attack victims, which would be extended across all rural areas – and the LIVES First Responder Scheme was born…

Many thanks to Mally Daubney [former Practice Manager, Nettleham Medical Practice] for this very interesting and informative article, written from first-hand experience of being involved in the early days of LIVES.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.