Posted: Mon 16th Mar 2015

Wales’ ‘flying’ doctors to use world’s most advanced emergency medical vehicles

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Mar 16th, 2015

Wales’ new ‘flying’ doctors will travel to the scene of emergencies in the most advanced vehicles seen anywhere in the world, Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething announced today.

The Deputy Minister unveiled the high-tech rapid response vehicles and saw them in action during a live exercise at the Ministry of Defence’s Caerwent training facility in Monmouthshire.

Launching in April, Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS) Cymru will become the first national pre-hospital service of its kind in the UK.

It has been developed using the latest and best evidence from military and civilian services from across the world.

NHS doctors drawn from emergency medicine, anaesthesia and intensive care will work alongside critical care practitioners who come from a range of advanced nursing and paramedic backgrounds.

The critical care team will be able to:

  • respond to medical and traumatic emergencies at the scene, including the provision of medical support at major incidents and mass casualty events
  • stabilise and transfer time-critical patients from district general hospitals to specialist centres
  • provide critical care support for enhanced stabilisation and transfer of mothers and babies
  • provide support to rapidly transfer neonatal teams to time-critical life threatening emergencies
  • support paediatric retrieval – transfer of time-critical patients.

This critical care team will use the state-of-the-art Audi Q7 4×4 fleet to treat, stabilise and transfer the most seriously-ill and injured patients to hospital.

They will:

  • provide blood and blood products, such as plasma, at the scene of an emergency – a unique feature for Wales and not available outside the military elsewhere in the world. This is being delivered in close collaboration with the Welsh Blood Service
  • carry casualties – another first for Wales
  • carry advanced diagnostic equipment, including ultrasound and blood clotting analysers
  • use an integrated data collection system so the hospital or control room can be live linked to the casualty via mobile telecommunications equipment.

As well as using the high-tech vehicles, the critical care team will fly with the Wales Air Ambulance, creating Wales’ first team of ‘flying doctors’. The equipment carried in the road vehicles and the helicopters is interchangeable.

The EMRTS Cymru critical care team will operate from the Wales Air Ambulance’s Swansea and Welshpool airbases and the cars will be based strategically across Wales.

The critical care team will be able to reach 95% of the population by air and 46% by road within 30 minutes. Due to the advanced resuscitation equipment the helicopters and cars carry, they will be able to travel much further and safer with a critically injured casualty than ever before.

The Welsh Government will provide £2.868m from 2015-16 to support EMRTS Cymru’s critical care team.  

Mr Gething said:

“Our investment in critical care consultants and practitioners means EMRTS Cymru will be one of, if not the most, comprehensively equipped pre-hospital teams in the world in terms of personnel, equipment, blood products, drug, diagnostics and data collection.

“It will transform our ability to provide the very best care to the most critically-ill patients in Wales. It will provide patients in remote and rural areas of Wales with rapid access to the skills of a consultant in emergency or intensive care medicine, who are equipped to provide life-saving, specialist critical care.

“The establishment of this team will support the reconfiguration of specialist services in Wales, ensuring that emergency services for the sickest and most seriously-injured patients are safe and sustainable for the future, while also improving clinical outcomes for patients.”

Angela Hughes, chief executive of the Wales Air Ambulance charity, said:

“To secure consultants on board helicopter shifts is a remarkable leap forward in providing one of the most advanced air ambulance services in the world.

“Over the last few years we have received incredible support from our fundraisers to upgrade our three helicopters and trial night flights. The addition of doctors to Wales Air Ambulance missions is another fantastic development in our service to people across Wales.

“We need to raise more than £6m in charitable donations every year to keep the helicopters flying, so we are appealing for everyone to support Wales’ flying doctors.”

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