The South Devon Railway Enthusiasts' site

Official Opening Saturday 28 July, 2.30pm
The opening of the “Colin Sully Training and Medical Centre” 28th July 2012Photo © JKeohane 2012

A partnership arrangement between two South Devon based charities to create a new on-site first aid facility is set to benefit not only staff and volunteers of the South Devon Railway [SDR] at Buckfastleigh, but also the many thousands of visitors who visit the ever expanding heritage railway attraction each year.

Since 2006, Devon EMS (Essential Medical Services), a South Devon based Voluntary First Aid organisation, has been providing first aid cover at the railway on the SDR’s special event days and working from an old portable cabin in the adjacent field. But, by the end of last year, the building was deemed to be no longer fit for purpose and the landowner also wanted it moved too.

So, discussions took place between SDR management and Devon EMS with a view to establishing a new improved facility. It was agreed that the opportunity should be taken to look for a suitable but much larger replacement unit which could also combine a first aid function with a medical training facility.

The outcome was that the SDR Trust purchased a second hand 35 x 10 foot cabin which was in need of roof and wall repairs but was otherwise ideal for the new location. The external repairs were undertaken by the railway’s maintenance team led by Richard Smart, and Devon EMS volunteers, led by founder and Principal Trustee for Devon EMS Jim Clarke, carried out the necessary internal conversion work.

It was also agreed that the new medical facility should be dedicated to the memory of volunteer first aid worker Colin Sully, who died in 2009, and had a long association with the former British Railways Totnes to Ashburton Branch prior to its closure in 1962.

When Colin Sully left the railways, he went to work for the Bristol Ambulance Service for a while before returning to South Devon where he retired. Colin later returned as a volunteer worker on the SDR which now runs steam trains over the old branch line between Totnes and Buckfastleigh.

With Devon EMS steadily developing its first aid links with the SDR, Colin was soon to become a volunteer with Devon EMS in addition to volunteering with the railway. During this time Colin made many friends within both organisations and is still affectionately remembered by many people.

As a result, the new first aid facility will be known as ‘The Colin Sully Training and Medical Centre”

The new medical centre will benefit both organisations and the people whom they serve. Whilst the centre is not open all of the time, SDR staff and visitors who suffer any injuries or fall ill whilst at the Buckfastleigh site can now receive the necessary treatment on site in a clean, comfortable and well-equipped environment in privacy.

SDR safety critical staff will also be able to have their essential and regular medical assessments in an on site environment which is now very much “fit for purpose”. And, for other SDR volunteers, there is the opportunity to receive health related advice and simple basic assessments undertaken by health care professionals associated with Devon EMS.

The official opening took place at Buckfastleigh Station on Saturday 28th July at 2.30pm and was carried out by SDR General Manager Dick Wood. The unit was then open to visitors until c.4.30pm when anyone was able to view the facilities and find out more about Devon EMS, plus an opportunity to view their Emergency Ambulance.

The Colin Sully unit will be used for on-going training by Devon EMS who also provide first aid courses for individuals, community groups, business and industry, the latter being HSE approved courses. So, in addition to benefiting both the SDR and Devon EMS, the new facility will also benefit the wider community.

Devon EMS is looking to establish community teams throughout South Devon and is actively looking for volunteers to maintain and expand their service to communities which include event medical cover, car-based patient transport services and First Aid training.

The South Devon Railway will be running trains EVERY day from now until November 4th. The Expressway model railway shop has gifts for children of all ages and is open for business on most days along with the nearby Refreshment Rooms.

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© South Devon Railway Association 2012

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