Relatively often, we hear about the achievements of air ambulance crews picking up and transporting patients (though not nearly as much as we should). And it’s understandable: an often very ill or critically injured patient is directly involved (more accurately, “physically present”) in the transport process.
But organ transport flights can be have just as direct and crucial an effect on saving a patient’s life. Remember the story from 2010, about the air ambulance pilot who, together with EMS workers, heroically entered a crashed, flaming jet to cut the fuel line and save a liver which, miraculously, was undamaged?
To be sure, sensitive medical shipments don’t always require an air ambulance team to deliver them — far from it. Medical courier services are often contracted to deliver all types of medical paraphrenalia, from labs, blood banks, pharmacies, and so on. But the reason organs are so often transported by aircraft makes perfect sense.
Hospitals all across the United States are adding on specialized trauma centers at an incredible pace, as American populations go up and boards of directors look to turn greater profits. But are they all needed?
Let’s look at the facts, as reported in USA Today. Since 2009, over 200 trauma centers have been opened. In addition, another 75 hospitals are seeking approvals to build them.
Are states like Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas in danger of becoming over-saturated with trauma centers?
Is such a thing even possible?
Ironically, the current trend is the reverse of what was occuring in the 90s and early 00s, where trauma centers had been closing across America. This seems indicative of a cycle, where trauma centers are built as hospitals turn profits, and close them when the running costs become too high. Judging by the record additions being made by hospitals across the U.S., we would appear to be in the former.
For eight weeks, London’s Air Ambulance will be testing out General Electric Healthcare’s portable “Vscan,” which will allow them to non-invasively see inside a patient’s body before a transport.
The ultrasound device — roughly the size of one of today’s smartphones — is not only extremely portable, but also produces a clear, high-quality image for quick, accurate readings by clinicians in emergency situations.
Why is this so important? By scanning patients before an air transport, you can assess the presence of fluid in areas of the body and identify other life threatening conditions. Unchecked, fluid build-ups can cause compression of the heart, a condition that often requires an emergency surgical procedure.
According to GE Healthcare, London’s Air Ambulance is intending to use the Vscan for FAST scanning — Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma. This will, among other things, allow the emergency service to rapidly assess the presence of blood on the abdomen, pelvis, and pericardium.
Could simple cabin design problems be to blame for a number of serious incidents – including three deaths – related to Ontario’s newly-entrenched ORNGE air ambulance service? According to a recent article that appeared in the Canadian province’s Globe and Daily Mail, that’s a very real possibility that some important people are looking at.
A new investigation into two deaths related to Ontario’s ORNGE service is examining the possibility that problems with the medical helicopters’ interior design may have placed patients at risk. According to the investigators, the design of the ORNGE choppers’ interiors may have positioned the patients too near the ceiling of the cabin.
Consequently, ORNGE is now seeking the approval of Canada’s national transportation regulator so that it may take specific actions to resolve problems with their air ambulances’ design. These critical problems reportedly prevent on-board medical personnel from performing CPR on patients.
If you’re someone who regularly reads about the latest air ambulance and air medical news, one idea you’ve no doubt come across more than a few times is the storied “golden hour.” This term appears on the web sites of many operators in countries around the world, where the idea is presented to the public in a variety of ways. An online search for golden hour produces gripping, true tales of trained air medical professionals saving lives when time is of the essence.
Yet, judging by the comments we sometimes see on articles related to this subject, some confusion – even contention – remains about the concept. So, what exactly is meant, in air medical terms, when we refer to the existence of a golden hour?