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New Emergency Response System ‘Saves 43% More Lives’

Posted: 20/02/2019

A new emergency response planning system being used by the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS), introduced back in 2016, has been credited with saving 43 per cent more lives in the first year since it was launched.

An evaluation carried out by the SAS and the University of Stirling found that there was a 20 per cent hike in survival in January 2017, with the model ensuring that those patients whose lives are at immediate risk receive the highest priority response from ambulances.

Medical director with the SAS Jim Ward welcomed the results, saying: “The previous response model had been in place, virtually unchanged, since 1974, so designing a better model to provide a good response for all patients has been a top priority for us. We now have an evidence-based approach which identifies patient need and matches our response accordingly.

“Our aim is to give every patient the best possible service we can. For those patients in critical situations, this can be literally lifesaving, whereas for other patients, such as those with chest pain or stroke symptoms, the priority is getting a high-quality clinical assessment before being transferred safely to a specialist unit.”

Other key findings in the report include a 21 per cent increase in the number of people in cardiac arrest having a pulse upon arrival at hospital, and a 100 per cent rise in having two crews on scene in cardiac arrest cases so that the chances of survival can be increased.

In less urgent cases, call handlers using the new system may spend more time with people to better understand their health needs. This means they can ensure they’re able to send the most appropriate resources out for given conditions at the outset - not necessarily the nearest or quickest response.

The system itself was informed by patient and staff feedback, similar to models introduced in Wales and some parts of England. However, it’s worth noting that even though ambulance crews care for patients in some of the most remote parts of the UK, they were still able to reach 75 per cent of patients in under ten minutes and 96 per cent within 20 minutes across the whole of Scotland in 2017.

The SAS itself employs more than 4,600 highly skilled staff, providing an ambulance emergency service to more than five million people, serving all mainland and island communities.

The Patient Transport Service also takes about one million patients to and from hospital, with more than 1.5 million calls for assistance responded to each and every year. The air ambulance service undertakes about 3,500 missions annually and the organisation is assisted by more than 1,200 volunteers, such as its community first responders.