A new £1.1 million ambulance base in the north-east marks a “major milestone” in treating trauma patients and potentially saving lives.
Using helicopters, planes or fast response vehicles, the ScotSTAR North base in Aberdeen provides potentially life-saving pre-hospital care for seriously injured and critically ill patients.
The Dyce facility, which was officially opened by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman yesterday, will allow consultant-led teams to respond to major incidents.
The north-east-based team will be deployed predominantly to the northern regions of Orkney, Shetland, Wick and also to the surrounding area around Aberdeen, to deliver critical care, often at the roadside.
The service will also transfer patients from smaller medical facilities to larger hospitals to receive more specialist care.
Ms Freeman said the base marks a “major milestone”, adding: “For the trauma network as a whole it is a major piece, it’s like a missing piece that has been inserted.
“This allows patients wherever they are in Scotland to know they will have a high quality, instantly accessible retrievable service that is, in effect, taking the hospital, the consultants, the paramedics and the equipment to where they are injured.
“And that makes a difference.”
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The team has already been sent out on 75 incidents since the base started operating on April 23, with many of these incidents involving paramedics providing treatment by the roadside.
Ms Freeman said it was “very difficult to prove” if lives would be saved as a direct result of the base but said clinicians would be able to point to instances where this was likely.
She said: “I think if you spoke to any of the clinicians here they will be able to point to instances where they are convinced that their presence at the place where the individual was injured, beginning with treatment there and transferring them to the appropriate hospital setting, has saved lives but absolutely has also improved lives.”
Dr Alastair Ross, clinical lead for the adult team, said treatments were now being delivered which were previously only available in a hospital setting.
He said: “Some of our work is at the scenes of accidents, working in conjunction with the ambulance service and paramedics, to deliver treatments we weren’t able to deliver previously. These can include blood transfusions, emergency anaesthetic and also enhanced pain relief.”
Programme leader Steve Munro said: “The team has been quite busy. We’ve had 75 taskings in total – a lot of those have been primary admissions, taking specialist care to the roadside.
“Others have been retrieval, from remote and rural Scotland, taking the doctors to the patient, stabilising them for transfer and then back to a centre in Aberdeen or further afield.”