SWIFT Medics - Case Study
We are a team of volunteer doctors based in Swindon and Wiltshire who treat seriously ill patients directly at the scene of medical emergencies, such as serious road traffic accidents or cardiac arrest, at the request of the South West Ambulance Service (SWAST).
Few people realise that the NHS does not send doctors to the scene of emergency incidents and that ambulance paramedics are not trained to give anaesthetics or perform emergency surgery. Ambulances bring patients to hospital for emergency treatment, but in the most severe cases, such as a serious road traffic accident or cardiac arrest, this will be too late. In these cases, SWAST call SWIFT Medics to see if we are able to help. In about one in six of the incidents we attend our interventions prevent death or life changing injury for a patient.
In 2011 we had six volunteer doctors who were able to attend approximately 30% of the 1,000 incidents in Swindon and Wiltshire that required an emergency doctor. Our aim in 2012 was to recruit two new volunteer doctors to increase our capacity. To support this objective we applied for a grant to help with our training costs. The Community Foundation of Wiltshire & Swindon was kind enough to respond positively to our request.
Each new volunteer doctor costs us £10,200 for their specialist training and equipment: £2,100 for police blue-light driver training, £2,000 for a mobile defibrillator monitor, £1,900 for a capnograph (anaesthetic monitor), £500 for a pre-hospital anaesthesia course, £1,200 for an immediate care course and £2,500 for the doctor’s personal protective equipment and the equipment and medicines they need at the scene.
Each of our volunteers donates about 180 hours a year to SWIFT Medics, which allows them to attend approximately 50 incidents. On average they will provide treatment to about 35 people a year and save a life or prevent life changing injury for about 8 people. Of course, these figures will vary per doctor – but they are an average reflection of our volunteers’ work.
We are delighted to report that following our successful fundraising in 2012 we were able to recruit three new volunteer doctors!
We thought you might be interested in the experience of just one of our current volunteers, Dr James Mapstone, during a busy three weeks in November 2012. This is illustrative of the work our new volunteers will do.
Dr James Mapstone
On top of his full-time NHS job, during a three week period in November 2012, James responded to 18 incidents as a volunteer for SWIFT Medics and treated a total of 29 patients directly at the scene.
On three occasions, he accompanied the patient to hospital in the ambulance and, in one serious case, James went into the operating theatre to support the hospital team with their emergency care.
Three patients were admitted to intensive care and Dr Mapstone made three visits to check on their progress.
23 patients are recovering from their trauma thanks, in part, to James’ interventions at the scene, although sadly six people could not be saved.
The following case illustrates the help we provide that would otherwise be unavailable to a patient.
RTC Incident August 2012
On 6th August 2012, just before 10 pm, we received a call from SWAST asking us to attend an accident. On arrival, volunteer Dr Ed Valentine discovered a teenage motorcyclist who had collided with a car. He had suffered severe neck and limb injuries, but was still conscious although struggling to breathe.
Further investigation revealed the patient's trachea (wind pipe) had been severed by glass and he had alarmingly low blood pressure, suggesting an internal haemorrhage. It was clear that he needed immediate emergency intervention to save his life. Thanks to his equipment and specialist training, Ed was able to anaesthetise at the scene, perform a tracheotomy and ensure his condition stabilised sufficiently to survive transfer by air ambulance to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where Dr Valentine knew the patient could receive the specialist surgery he required.
Ed accompanied him during the flight, monitoring his condition and was able to brief the emergency medical team on arrival at hospital.
We are in no doubt that the patient would not have survived without our intervention. Ed received the Chief Officer’s Commendation for his prompt actions in this incident. The patient has made a full recovery and will shortly run the Oxford Half Marathon to raise money for SWIFT Medics and Wiltshire Air Ambulance.
Our three new volunteer doctors will increase SWIFT Medics’ capacity enabling us to attend approximately 150 additional incidents like this every year.
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