Air ambulance aims to improve treatment at scene to boost patients’ survival chances

Alastair Wilson Medical Director of EAAA. Picture by Keith Jones

Alastair Wilson Medical Director of EAAA. Picture by Keith Jones - Credit: Keith Jones

'We want to bring the hospital to the patient at the scene.' Those are the words of Alastair Wilson, medical director of the East Anglian Air Ambulance, when asked how he sees the medical future of the charity.

Mr Wilson, who has been medical director for two years, said the charity's equipment and staff's expertise has come a long way since the air ambulance was formed in 2000 – but the aim is to give an even better service to patients.

His comments come as the air ambulance celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.

When the air ambulance first flew over Norfolk it carried a 'Thomas bag', in which drugs were compartmentalised.

Its medical staff consisted only of paramedics which meant that the service focused on getting the patient to hospital as quickly as possible.

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But that has changed, as the charity evolved, with the emphasis now on providing a hospital treatment at the scene.

Mr Wilson said the ability to carry doctors who can use more advanced equipment such as chest drains and anaesthetics, has improved patients' survival rates.

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'For example if a person has a brain injury their breathing pattern is odd and will cause a second injury to the brain,' he said.

'But the earlier we can incubate and ventilate the patient the more we prevent that secondary injury.

'Most of the care carried out now is at consultant level.'

Mr Wilson is working with local hospitals, such as Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn, and James Paget University Hospital, to create a system where serious trauma patients can be stabilised there before being taken to specialist centre such as Addenbrooke's or the N&N.

He also hopes the charity can start using a machine known as Ecmo, which increases oxygen in the bloodflow of a patient.

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