Dr. Richard Lyon reminds us just why extending our service into the night hours was such a hugely significant step for Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance.
Our HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) crews consist of a Pilot, a Specialist Doctor and a Critical Care Paramedic. We work very closely as a team to deliver highly specialist medical care to victims of major trauma and patients who are critically ill. We can be airborne within three minutes of being activated and, flying at speeds of 150mph, can reach anywhere in our counties within 20 minutes.
I attended an incident where a motorcyclist was thrown against a tree and suffered multiple broken ribs. These caused both his lungs to collapse and every breath collapsed them further. We were at the patient’s side just six minutes after the crash, and firstly administered an emergency anaesthetic. We then performed surgical procedures in order to relieve the air pressure in his chest. Outside of hospital, this treatment can only be provided by a HEMS team and therefore, without our attendance, his injuries would have been fatal within a few minutes. The patient was airlifted directly to a major trauma centre; the most appropriate hospital for this patient in relation to the injuries he had sustained. He made a full recovery and returned to his family.
Accidents like this, and other medical emergencies which require the assistance of a HEMS team, do occur 24 hours a day. Although the outcome for this patient was excellent, had this accident occurred just a few hours later in night time hours, we previously would not have been able to attend and provide the treatment that was so essential to his survival. Therefore, the outcome for this patient could have resulted in a tragic fatality.
Working as a doctor with the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance is a unique and privileged job. I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction from helping people in their moment of need, and I feel lucky to be part of the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance team.