Rural fast-response medics to be celebrated

The Emergency Medical Retrieval Service is being recognised as it marks 10 years of operating in Scotland. Picture: Greg Macvean
The Emergency Medical Retrieval Service is being recognised as it marks 10 years of operating in Scotland. Picture: Greg Macvean
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THE “heroic efforts” of a team of medics who respond to emergencies are being recognised as the service marks a 10-year milestone.

The Emergency Medical Retrieval Service (EMRS) provides patients with life threatening conditions in remote and rural areas of Scotland with rapid access to a consultant doctor travelling on road and by helicopter.

It was originally set up as a pilot with just eight volunteer consultants from emergency medicine, anaesthetics and intensive care backgrounds, but now operates a 24/7 service across the country from the heliport in Glasgow with 27 consultants. It has completed more than 3,000 retrievals since its launch in 2004.

Health Secretary Shona Robison met members of the service and air ambulance paramedics today on its 10th anniversary.

She said: “Critical illness or injury can strike anywhere, at any time, and patients can often be some distance from the essential medical treatment they need. Scotland’s Emergency Medical Retrieval Service have, for the last decade, provided these people with a lifeline.

“Over the last 10 years, this service has meant the difference between life and death to some people - and it is important the heroic efforts of the team are recognised.

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“Since the EMRS was initially established, it has grown and developed into a national service that now provides care to patients across Scotland. This Government has supported that roll-out, demonstrating our continued commitment to providing a world-class dedicated transport and retrieval service to patients in remote and rural communities.”

The EMRS forms part of Scotland’s new national service ScotSTAR, the specialist transport and retrieval service for critically ill NHS patients launched in April this year.

The £9.5 million initiative brings together the three transport and retrieval services; the Scottish Neonatal Service, the Transport of Critically Ill and Injured Children Service and the EMRS, with the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Dr Stephen Hearns, clinical lead of EMRS, said: “The EMRS service, which started as a pilot 10 years ago, has proved its value as a specialist life-saving service that delivers critical pre-hospital care wherever it is needed across Scotland, whether on a remote island or at the scene of a road accident.

“It is a fantastic example of cross speciality working with consultants in emergency medicine, anaesthesia and intensive care from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee. They work closely as a team with ambulance paramedics and Bond’s pilots to provide a first-class service that meets the challenges of Scotland’s geography and rurality.”

ScotSTAR expects to undertake around 2,200 cases every year in Scotland where specialist, highly-skilled, clinical teams are required to manage the care of patients during transport by air and road. These specialised retrievals are clinically complex and take much longer than a normal emergency response.

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