The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) could be about to blaze a new trail in treating some of the most seriously injured patients, thanks to a cross-Atlantic partnership.
Techniques and equipment being developed in the US are set to be trialled by the charity, which has bases in the North East and Cumbria, after a fact-finding mission by aircrew doctor Simon Le Clerc yielded positive results.
Dr Le Clerc, a consultant in emergency medicine, spent several weeks visiting hospitals and air ambulances in the US to look at ways to deal with non-compressible torso bleeding when in the pre-hospital environment.
Most common in road traffic incidents and bad falls, this type of bleeding is notoriously difficult to treat effectively before the patient gets into hospital.
But that could all be about to change, with various techniques being identified that could have a significant impact across the GNAAS area, which ranges from North Yorkshire to the Scottish Borders, east coast to west.
The precise nature of the treatments are not yet being revealed, but Dr Le Clerc said they involved stemming the flow of blood within the torso.
Dr Le Clerc, whose visit to the states was sponsored by the William Churchill Memorial Foundation, said: “What we are doing is looking at ways to treat this demographic of patients who, statistically, do very badly in the pre-hospital environment.
“We’ve identified a number of techniques and pieces of equipment that are making waves in the US and the Great North Air Ambulance Service is looking to bring them onto British shores for the first time.
“Patients in this category are always in a critical condition. These developments give us the opportunity to stabilise them and to get them into hospital alive and ready for ongoing treatment. It is life-saving and potentially ground-breaking.”
As a consequence of his research, having compiled information from both a civilian and military environment, Dr Le Clerc has found himself in demand. He has been busy reporting his findings to audiences in the UK and US, with healthcare experts around the world keen to get a better understanding of the developments.
Dr Le Clerc will be working alongside hospitals in the region in order to bring the trial to fruition.
GNAAS is a charity and last year needed to raise £5.1million to survive. It responded to 1,042 call-outs across the region. To see how you can help, contact 01325 487263 or visit www.gnaas.com