The archetypal high speed vehicle rollover; a tragic dam drowning of a young child; a quad bike or farming accident … all of these and many other injuries have a wide impact on rural communities and are all too familiar to rural clinicians.

It is certainly true that critical illness does not respect geography. However, with increased rurality come increased challenges in terms of available ambulance personnel and arrival of specialist pre-hospital services – the so-called “tyranny of distance”

The Sandpiper Trust in Scotland was established in 2001. Like many successes, it was borne from underlying tragedy. Sandy Dickson (aged 14 years) died in a tragic accident in a remote area and emergency services were unable to respond in a prompt manner. In their grief, the Dickson family channeled their efforts into doing some good – specifically, to ensure that timely help was available to rural communities despite difficulties in geography or available personnel.

Sandpiper was chosen as the name of the charity – the sandpiper being a light-hearted, cheeky bird who plays near water, in memory of Sandy Dickson.

The Sandpiper Trust has provided over 1000 Sandpiper Bags to rural responders across Scotland. Now in its third iteration, the Sandpiper Bag Mk III is a purpose-designed pre-hospital bag containing sufficient equipment to allow trained responders to deliver meaningful interventions on scene. The clinicians are trained via the Scottish branch of the British Association of Immediate Care Schemes (BASICS), with successful training a prerequisite before taking delivery of the Sandpiper Bag.

Dr Jenny Forteath (Scotland) visiting Kangaroo Island, showcasing the Sandpiper Bag

The Sandpiper model has been an outstanding success in Scotland and is immediately applicable to the context of rural Australia. The ‘tyranny of distance’ means that it can take many hours for expert retrieval services to arrive in rural and remote Australia. Rural Generalist doctors, with existing skills in emergency medicine and/or anaesthesia, can help ‘value add’ to the prehospital scene. This requires equipment and training.

A small team of Australian clinicians, under the aegis of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia, have partnered with The Sandpiper Trust (UK), to establish a similar not-for-profit entity, Sandpiper-Australia.

Sandpiper Australia aims to promote advocacy and funding for a network of Sandpiper Bags. These prehospital bags will be stocked with appropriate emergency responder equipment, enabling rural clinicians to respond to incidents in their community when appropriate to ‘value add’ on scene.

We envisage that the Sandpiper Bag will become a focal point of community fundraising and advocacy to improve trauma care across rural Australia.

Use of a standardised Sandpiper Bag supports a National Rural Emergency Responder Network; a system of rural clinicians equipped and trained to ‘value add’ to prehospital incidents in rural communities. This is consistent with position statements of both RDAA and ACRRM in regard to the role of rural clinicians in prehospital care.

WANT A BAG? Get in touch via the EOI form here or email info@sandpiperaustralia.org

Dr Philippa ‘Pip’ Baker showcasing the Sandpiper Bag with her trusty Landrover Defender in South Australia.

Sandpiper Australia Ltd is a registered not-for-profit charity, with deductible recipient gift status – any funds donated can be offset against tax.

Sandpiper Australia Ltd

ACN 636 782 584

ABN 94 636 782 584

Postal address : Secretary – Dr Scott Lewis 37 Henry Rd, Blakiston SA 5250

In 2020 Sandpiper Australia was the grateful recipient of two grants from the RDAQ Foundation “Grants for Good Health” program, totalling $20K – this generous grant has helped the organisation with set up of the charity, administration and purchase of Sandpiper Bags for demonstration at conferences, workshops and training via ACRRM PHEC (prehospital emergency care) course. Whilst COVID-19 has impacted on our ability to conduct face-to-face training and promote Sandpiper via conferences & workshops, we hope to have a launch of Sandpiper Champions in each State for 2021.