Northamptonshire air ambulance launches new night-time emergency service

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A new life saving night-time emergency service is to be launched by Northamptonshire’s air ambulance charity.

It will see specialist trauma doctors and critical care paramedics out on the county’s roads until the early hours of the morning – seven days a week.

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Currently, the East Midlands has no dedicated doctor led out-of-hours pre-hospital critical care provision.

The new night car service, which has been developed by Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance, will launch in May following a very successful pilot project.

The cars will carry all the lifesaving equipment used on the helicopter including a defibrillator, cardiac monitor, a ventilator and an automated CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) device.

On-board doctors and critical care paramedics will also have access to critical care drugs and equipment usually available only in hospital emergency departments.

The night car service will take over from the air ambulance when darkness falls; and will operate until around 2am, 365 days per year.

On Saturday May 21, the new car will unveiled to the public at the Northampton Lift Tower from 11am-1pm, then at the Wyevale centre on Newport Road, Wootton between 1pm and 3pm.

To fund the initiative, which has been welcomed by EMAS (East Midlands Ambulance Service), the charity launched a successful appeal to meet the £69,000 cost of setting up the service and getting the car on the road.

East Midlands Ambulance Service Acting Chief Executive Officer Richard Henderson said: “This is a great initiative from the air ambulance and we look forward to working in partnership with the charity to deliver even better emergency care to the local community.”

Now the charity, which receives no government funding, needs to raise an additional £200,000 per year to keep the service on the road.

Richard Clayton, director of operations for Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance, said:

“This new service will undoubtedly save lives. It means the expertise of our highly trained team of trauma doctors and critical care paramedics who normally fly on the helicopter during daylight, will be available at night.

“We looked at extending the operating hours of the helicopter after dark, but it makes much more sense at this time to use a rapid response vehicle. Helicopters are severely restricted to where they can land at night, which means it could take longer to get to patients; or we might not be able to get to them at all.

“Local roads are much clearer in the evening and our pilot project demonstrated that we can reach a lot more people at night by car than by helicopter,” said Richard.

The new night car service – along with a second vehicle covering Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland – is expected to handle more than 1,500 missions per year.

In addition to providing enhanced care at accidents and medical emergencies, the night car service will also offer an interception service and provide secondary transfers from local hospitals to major trauma centres.

Richard said: “The team will able to support NHS ambulance crews to make the clinical decision to by-pass a local hospital and go direct to a major trauma centre by intercepting them en-route and putting a doctor and/or critical care paramedic onto the ambulance to support the ambulance clinician during the transfer.

“We will also be able to go to local hospitals and put a doctor and / or critical care paramedic onto an ambulance when a patient needs to be transferred to a major trauma centre.

“Along with excellent work of the ambulance service and the out-of-hours volunteer doctors across the region, the introduction of the night car service will have a real impact on the lives of patients and their families who need emergency care at night.

“The new service is a big investment by Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance and the charity needs everyone in Northamptonshire to get behind its appeal for funds,” said Richard.