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Emergency Medical Retrieval Service Celebrates Successful Year

June 16, 2009 9:31 AM

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Many patients in rural areas from Stranraer to Stornoway will be celebrating the first successful year of the Emergency Medical Retrieval Service (EMRS).

A total of 222 patients with life threatening illnesses or injuries who live in those areas have been retrieved by EMRS since June last year, and the service has also assisted rural colleagues with detailed advice on a further 187 patients, meaning 409 patients have benefited from the service over the past year.

Scotland’s ‘flying doctor’ service is a unique and innovative service which sees consultants from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde work in close co-operation with the Scottish Ambulance Service and rural health boards.

The service, which had originally been provided by consultants on a voluntary basis, was so successful that the Scottish Government gave funding of £1.5 million.

The aim is to provide patients suffering life threatening injuries or illness in rural areas along the west coast of Scotland with rapid access to the skills of either an emergency or intensive care consultant.

The consultants are based in Glasgow but are only one phone call and one helicopter ride away. A highly specialist team from both the NHS and the Scottish Ambulance Service are quickly deployed by either ambulance service helicopter, fixed wing aircraft or the Royal Navy Sea King helicopter to any patient requiring emergency or intensive care medicine if it is not available on site.

The EMRS brings the urban hospital emergency department to patients in remote and rural areas.

Dr Stephen Hearns, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, based at the Royal Alexandra Hospital is lead consultant for EMRS.

He said: “The service not only offers an integrated system of rural emergency care but provides rural GPs with additional training in emergency care and immediate access to expert advice on patient care and management.

Jim Kersse, Head of Air Ambulance Service at the Scottish Ambulance Service, added: “Our air paramedics are highly trained specialists in emergency care and undertake over 3000 flights every year.

“The EMRS offers an enhancement to the existing paramedic service for those patients who would benefit from the early intervention of a consultant.”


Notes to Editors

What does this service offer people in rural areas?

This service offers patients in rural areas with life threatening injuries and illnesses with an improved chance of survival. This is through the emergency medical retrieval service taking a role in rural practitioner training, immediate access to expert emergency telephone advice, rapid access to a consultant with critical care skills in the rural health care facility and safe air transfer to definitive care. Essentially the EMRS is an integrated system of emergency care for rural Scotland.

How does this service differ from what previously existed?

The Scottish Ambulance Service operates two helicopters and two fixed wing aircraft serving rural health care facilities. These are crewed by pilots and paramedics. What the emergency medical retrieval service does is add a consultant in emergency or intensive care medicine equipped with mobile life support equipment to the existing pilot and paramedic team. This allows a huge increase in the number of life saving interventions that can be carried out in the rural General Practitioners’ surgery or rural community hospital.

What area do you cover?

The pilot serves all rural health care facilities on the west coast from Stranraer in the south to Stornoway in the north. This includes three rural general hospitals, 13 community hospitals and numerous isolated practices.

For more information contact 0141 201 4429.

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Last Updated: 06 February 2015