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Flying doctors’ complete more than 600 missions in first six months

Consultants on board Wales Air Ambulance Charity flights have given vital treatment to more than 600 people over the last six months.

Since joining air ambulance flights in April, senior doctors have provided pioneering emergency medical care across Wales, including treatment usually only available in hospitals.

Missions included carrying out surgical procedures at the roadside, 21 blood and blood product transfusions and 82 emergency anaesthetics.

More than a third of emergency calls were to treat either heart attacks or patients in cardiac arrest (38 per cent), and one in five missions were to care for patients involved in road traffic collisions.

The doctors joined Wales Air Ambulance Charity flights in April as part of an enhanced emergency care service developed in partnership with NHS Wales, the Welsh Government, and the Welsh Blood Service.

As well as adding consultants to flights, the enhanced service also introduced pioneering equipment and treatments developed from armed forces emergency medical care.

This included being among the first civilian services in Europe to carry three separate blood products, allowing the critical care team to provide blood transfusions at the scene of an emergency.

The consultants are joined on missions by critical care practitioners – advanced medics that received specialist training to join the enhanced service.

Nineteen critical care consultants and twelve critical care practitioners (CCPs) are now flying with the Wales Air Ambulance across Wales.

Dr Ami Jones, a lead consultant specializing in anaesthesia and intensive care medicine, is one of the flying doctors working on the air ambulance’s South Wales helicopter.

Dr Jones said: “It’s been a fantastic year, and I’ve no doubt that there are people living in Wales today that wouldn’t be here had it not been for the care we’ve provided.

“There have been some incredible cases where the availability of doctors at the scene of an incident has saved people’s lives, and the addition of blood products has been particularly important.

“Recently we were required to administer blood products at two separate incidents in one day, which is really unusual. Thanks to having quick access to a supply of replacement blood products, we were able to treat both patients and get them to hospital for the specialist care they needed.

“The ability to reach a patient in 20 or 30 minutes and provide lifesaving treatment gives them a much better chance of survival. It’s been a busy first six months, but we’re all really enjoying the challenge.”

Wales Air Ambulance Charity CEO Angela Hughes said: “The availability of doctors on board Wales Air Ambulance flights has undoubtedly saved lives across Wales.

“In about half of the cases attended, the team delivered skills and treatments not routinely available outside of hospital in Wales, saving time and saving lives.

“The new rapid response vehicles have been an additional benefit, when we need to reach patients during adverse weather or after dark.”

She added: “This is an exciting time for pre-hospital care in Wales. The development of our new airbase in Carmarthenshire will be yet another step in building our air ambulance operation, giving our doctors the latest technology and facilities to carry out their missions.

“We couldn’t do this without the incredible generosity of our supporters.”

The Welsh Government is providing £2.868m from 2015-16 to support the enhanced service. The Wales Air Ambulance continues to rely entirely on charitable donations to raise the £6m required each year to keep the air ambulances flying.

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