Kit on Board

Flying doctors bring new lifesaving treatments to Wales

Our new critical care team of doctors means Wales Air Ambulance can provide even more treatments on helicopter missions.

The specially-selected doctors have advanced expertise in emergency medicine, paediatrics, anaesthesia and intensive care. With these extra skills our crews have pioneering new equipment, including blood products.

Dr Dindi Gill talks us through some of the medical developments that have been specially selected for the programme.

Blood products

Blood Products

Wales Air Ambulance has become one of the first air ambulance teams in Europe to have three types of blood products at the scene of an emergency.

Wales Air Ambulance has become one of the first air ambulance teams in Europe to have three types of blood products at the scene of an emergency.

The charity’s helicopters now carry red blood cells, lyoplas and fibrinogen concentrate. These help to stop bleeding and replenish lost blood.

Dindi said: “This life-saving technology is inspired by military medicine used in Afghanistan, where heavy blood loss through trauma needs to be urgently stemmed and replenished.

“We will be one of the first civilian services in Europe to offer this treatment. Currently, some air ambulance services in the UK only carry red blood cells, the Wales Air Ambulance will also carry lyoplas and fibrinogen concentrate, which aid the clotting process that prevents blood loss.”

Red blood cells: A fundamental part of the human circulatory system, red blood cells transport oxygen to bodily organs. Wales Air Ambulance carries O negative blood, which is compatible with all other blood groups, on missions.

Lyoplas: A freeze-dried derivative of plasma, a liquid component that makes up approximately 50 per cent of blood. When mixed with water, it can be used to help aid blood transfusions at the scene of an emergency.

Fibrinogen concentrate: A concentrated dose of fibrinogen, which helps aid the blood clotting process. As with Lyoplas and the red blood cells, the Fibrinogen concentrate is extracted from blood donated by members of the public. The blood is supplied by the Welsh Blood Service.

EPOC blood gas monitor machine

The EPOC blood gas monitor will allow the crews to carry out blood analysis that would otherwise only be available in hospitals.

By testing blood while working in the field, the air ambulance team can carry out blood analysis in around five minutes.

Dindi said: “Carrying out blood tests is something we’ll be doing on any unwell patient, and can help highlight or rule out a number of issues in a short period of time.

“It’s about helping us to understand a patient’s condition as quickly as possible. By carrying out blood testing at an earlier stage, we can determine a patient’s condition quicker and save time upon arrival in hospital.”

Ultrasound Scanner

Air ambulance medics will also be equipped with ultrasound scanners, which will help identify internal trauma to organs at an earlier stage.

The scanner can help identify internal bleeding and indicate towards the source of blood loss.

Dindi said: “As with the blood gas monitor, the ultrasound scanner will help us to identify issues at an earlier stage, and again save time on procedures when a patient is delivered to hospital.”

“As well as internal bleeding, the scanner can also help to identify trauma to organs, such as punctured lungs.”

Rapid Response

New Audi rapid response vehicles

Through partnership with NHS Wales, the doctors will have access to a new fleet of Rapid Response Vehicles (RRVs).

These are stationed throughout Wales, including two at Wales Air Ambulance bases. This will help the team respond to emergency situations by road if necessary.

Five Audi Q7s have been converted into state-of-the-art emergency response vehicles designed to enable doctors to reach the scene of a medical emergency as fast as possible.

Dindi said: “When the critical care teams are not flying, for example in foggy weather, the RRVs will be a vital part of responding to emergencies, equipped with state of the art technology. The crews’ kit is interchangeable between the aircraft and road vehicle.”

Tempus Pro Monitor

Using technology developed for the maritime, exploration and military environments the Tempus Pro monitor allows crews to wirelessly transmit diagnostic information, such as pulse, heart rate and oxygen levels.

This information is then picked up by a hospital or clinician at a separate location, which can provide advice and guidance if needed, or make preparations for an incoming critical patient.

Dindi said: “The Tempus monitor has also been used by the UK armed forces, and allows clinicians to remotely receive updates on a patient’s condition. They can then offer treatment advice, or make preparations for their arrival to hospital.

“The monitors have built-in technology that will enable the Wales Air Ambulance teams to become the first in Britain to administer emergency anesthetic, and will also be able to provide video feedback and monitoring to remotely based clinical teams.”

State of the Art Ventilator

The new advanced technology ventilators that are being used by the critical care teams are designed to work on people of all ages, from infants through to elderly patients.

Dindi said: “The new ventilators are the first of their kind to be used in the UK, and will help us to stabilise all patients before they are taken to the nearest  appropriate hospital.”