A further 60-70 lives could be saved* across Birmingham and the Black Country each year as Midlands Air Ambulance Charity (MAAC) has today (1st June) launched an innovative critical care car with West Midlands Ambulance Service to specifically tend to those suffering from either a heart attack, cardiac arrest, sepsis, stroke or serious respiratory issues.
“While we will always remain a helicopter-led pre-hospital emergency care service, the new car enhances our ability to save more lives,” states Hanna Sebright, chief executive for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity. She continues:
“It enables the highly-trained critical care paramedics to reach and offer early advanced medical intervention to patients with serious medical conditions in and around the second city.”
The BMW X5 rapid response vehicle will be based in Oldbury, and will initially be operated daily between 7am and 7pm by a critical care paramedic. It joins MAAC’s fleet after research into the future of emergency patient care. West Midlands Ambulance Service attends up to 4,000 cardiac arrests each year. After a six-month feasibility trial, results demonstrated patient survival and recovery could be improved with the launch of the MAAC critical care car; the British Heart Foundation believe an additional 60-70 lives could been saved via support delivered from such a service.
Hanna Sebright adds: “The critical care paramedic on the car will support the vitally important work of the staff at West Midlands Ambulance Service. By the nature of our work at MAAC, the critical care paramedics regularly attend more complex medical conditions and are trained to an advanced, often masters, level of clinical care.
“In addition, the car is equipped with the same advanced medical kit and equipment as our helicopters, so we can bring parts of the emergency department to the patient, which can improve survival rates and restore quality of life.”
Steve Wheaton, assistant chief ambulance officer at West Midlands Ambulance Service, led the critical care car feasibility trial on behalf of the ambulance service and MAAC. He states: “I am delighted that we have been able to work with MAAC to fund this new service which has the potential to save dozens of lives each year. Being able to bring hospital level care to the patient will undoubtedly improve the care that can be provided to patients. It will also give them time with their friends and loved ones that they might not otherwise have had; to be able to give someone the gift of life is priceless.”
Due to the critical care car entering the fleet, an additional seven members of aircrew have been recruited. As part of their monthly remit, the bolstered team of clinicians will fly on the three air ambulance helicopters, man the critical care car, and work in the control room at West Midlands Ambulance Service, tasked with sourcing incidents for the car to attend. The aircrew are also being given additional training to support their on-going clinical development.
The new critical care car is funded by the charity at a cost of £500,000 each year, which is being supported by grant of £131,000 from the HELP Appeal. Speaking on behalf of the Appeal, CEO Robert Bertram, says: “We are proud to help facilitate the launch of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity’s innovative new critical care car. The evidence demonstrating dozens of lives are likely to be saved thanks to this new asset is extremely encouraging, and we look forward to seeing the car on our region’s roads.”
In full support of the new critical care car, TV’s Sally Bee, who suffered five heart attacks before the age of 50, attended the launch event at MAAC’s Strensham airbase in Worcestershire. Given her incredible recovery, and positive outlook on life, she now runs a wellness journal, Beelicious, and counsels heart patients around the UK. Sally adds: “As a mum of three children, living with a potentially fatal heart condition, I know the importance of critical timing to save lives. To be reassured that the wonderful teams at Midlands Air Ambulance Charity now have the capabilities to save even more lives, gives us all an extra reassurance we are being cared for and looked after by true experts and heroes!”
The team at Midlands Air Ambulance Charity would like to thank the HELP Appeal and the general public and local businesses who kindly support the organisation, and enabled the charity to reinvest in the future of patient care in the region.
* Information from the British Heart Foundation