COLCHESTER’S ‘fourth emergency service’ is celebrating a decade of support and selflessness.

Many town centre revellers will be familiar with the pink and yellow SOS bus parked in Colchester High Street - however it offers much more than people think.

For 10 years, Open Road staff and volunteers have been giving up their Friday and Saturday nights from 8.30pm until 4am, to help patch up injuries and send drunken partygoers safely on their way home.

Since it opened, their remit has expanded dramatically, with an increase in people coming to the bus with more serious injuries.

Steve Wood, SOS bus manager, said: “As the pubs and clubs have opened later there has been a need for the bus to be here. Where people think we are a drunk tank, it is not. We are a medical support bus.

“We do deal with drunk people but also mental health issues, and injuries including stapling, stitching and glueing together.”

When the bus first started a typical night would include recharging a drunk person’s phone, calling their parents, rehydrating them, and fast-tracking them through to a taxi service.

Now, the bus offers even more medical support, freeing up time for the emergency services, police and hospitals.

Mr Wood added: “We work with a company called Remote Medics, all of them are top notch paramedics. We can’t do X-rays or fix broken bones but we can do anything else.

“I think the worst thing was when there was a heart attack across the road. If we hadn’t been there that person would have died.

“We have seen fights where people have broken their jaws, and there was a car crash on North Hill where the ambulance gave us a call and we were there within three minutes.”

One of the most important aspects is the volunteers. Over 10 years about 350 different people have given up their time.

Mr Wood said: “They are phenomenal, some have been here from the word go. To volunteer for any organisation is quite demanding, but to come out here until 4am at the weekend is incredible.”

Mr Wood thanked the council and pubs for their work cracking down on late night drinking, as the bus has seen a decrease in alcohol related incidents. Last year they saw about 380,000 people in total.

The future s looking positive for Open Road, which has now launched a bus in Chelmsford.

Due to its success, London City Police have asked them to do an eight-week stop outside Liverpool Street station ahead of Christmas. New volunteers are welcome, call 01206 369782.