We at the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust (ARHT) have built our clinical service into a National Ambulance Sector Office (NASO) Service Category One team – meaning we provide a dual clinician, pre-hospital retrieval medicine (PHRM) doctor - intensive care paramedic (ICP) team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
We are currently the only aeromedical provider in New Zealand who provide a 24/7 doctor-intensive care paramedic model of care. As a result of this unique team, we combine the strongest clinical expertise, knowledge and skills from both paramedicine and medicine. This means that as well as advanced rescue and resuscitation techniques, we bring aspects of hospital care straight to patients in the community, right where and when they may need it most.
We provide specialist trauma and medical care to New Zealanders in the field and en route to definitive medical care, and we provide this for both primary (scene->hospital) and secondary inter-facility (hospital->hospital) retrievals.
Severe bleeding is one of the leading causes of early death in severe and multi-system trauma. There is research to support that transfusing blood prior to reaching hospital can reduce that death rate.
ARHT has a unique relationship with the NZ Blood Service where we carry at all times two units of universal donor, whole blood. Receiving this treatment can be the vital bridge that gives a bleeding patient enough time to reach hospital for further life-saving definitive care.
Currently we are also the only aeromedical provider in New Zealand able to transfuse blood products out of hospital. We are working closely with the National Trauma Network to support their Critical Haemorrhage quality improvement programme.
Clinicians from ARHT were also instrumental in developing the “Trauma Code Crimson” pathway for severe trauma at Auckland City Hospital, which streamlines and facilitates rapid access to definitive care at hospital.
Point of care ultrasound has developed into a vital tool for hospital clinicians and assists diagnosis and decision making in a variety of clinical situations. Thanks to our Philips Lumify portable ultrasound we take this advantage straight to the scene, helping make advanced decisions to streamline and expedite appropriate definitive treatment at hospital.
The LUCAS is our mechanical CPR device. Unfortunately some of our patients are so critically unwell that they require CPR, or are at risk of deteriorating to this point while en route to hospital in the helicopter. The nature of our work, with a two clinician model, or in the tight confines of the back of a helicopter means that it is sometimes not practical or even possible to spare hands or position oneself properly to perform the crucial task of effective chest compressions. The LUCAS can be fitted onto a patient to provide compressions while in the air or if our clinicians are busy performing other life-saving tasks.