Record Response for Ambulance Service

 Thursday 15 August 2013

At its Annual Public Review today, the Scottish Ambulance Service confirmed that it reached more patients in life threatening situations faster than ever before, improving national response times and clinical performance.

As part of today’s event, Michael Matheson, Minister for Public Health, met with 3-year old Casey McLean, from Colston in Glasgow, who on 8 July went into cardio/respiratory arrest and was resuscitated by paramedics before a rapid transfer to Yorkhill hospital, where she was successfully treated.  Casey and her family were reunited for the first time with the ambulance team and doctors that saved her life.

On the day of the incident, a Paramedic Response Unit reached Casey in five minutes, backed up by another ambulance crew two minutes later.  They transferred her to the specialist team in Yorkhill in a five minute journey across the city, delivering intensive treatment on the way.

Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson said: “I am delighted to be visiting the Scottish Ambulance Service for their annual review and to hear about the improvements that have been made in response times for people in life threatening situations, and the enhanced clinical care being provided to patients.

“Visiting the Ambulance Service’s training academy today also enabled me to see the first class training that is being provided to our ambulance staff and to meet some of the 150 new recruits that have been trained here. The academy provides the students with a more realistic training environment and the opportunity to simulate the types of situations that they may encounter in practice.

“I was also delighted to meet with the McLean family, to hear their story, and to see them reunited with the team that helped to save their daughter Casey’s life. The McLean family provide a very real example of how crucial a role our ambulance service play and demonstrate how the staff are saving lives every day of the year.”

During the review, David Garbutt, Chairman of the Scottish Ambulance Service said:

“During the year we once again improved the average response time for life threatening emergencies in Scotland to 6.5 minutes from 6.7 minutes the previous year. We are responding faster than ever before to very serious incidents, despite the continued increase in demand for ambulances.

“Ambulance crews used their clinical skills to save the lives of 523 patients in cardiac arrest and the average response time for these cases was 6 minutes.

“Emergency teams answered over 850,000 calls and responded to more than 600,000 incidents across the country.  All calls are prioritised so that those with the greatest clinical need receive the fastest response.

“The air ambulance service flew 3,235 missions, mainly serving island and remote communities across Scotland. Earlier this year the air ambulance wing was boosted by the introduction of Scotland’s first charitably funded air ambulance helicopter which is fully integrated as a welcome addition to the existing SAS fleet of two helicopters and two fixed wing aircraft.

“Investment of £1.3 million in additional clinical advisors in Ambulance Control Centres, along with enhanced decision support for crews, has resulted in an increase in patients who are treated at scene. This initiative resulted in 78,347 patients avoiding unnecessary attendance at A&E departments.

“A new direct booking system for the Patient Transport Service, which last year transferred 1.1 million patients to and from their healthcare appointments, was successfully rolled out across the whole country. It is delivering a more accessible and flexible service that better meets the needs of patients.

“During the year, 150 additional front line emergency staff were recruited and trained as part of the national initiative to ensure crews get planned rest breaks but can be dispatched to emergency calls when required.

“Our staff recognise that the patient is at the heart of everything that we do and continue to demonstrate their dedication and commitment to patients, delivering care with sensitivity and understanding in what are sometimes very challenging situations.

“There are now over 1,000 Volunteer Responders across Scotland who provide essential early assistance to patients while the ambulance crew is on its way. Responders provide an invaluable community service, as an addition to existing ambulance teams, that is often life saving.

“We continued to manage resources effectively for the benefit of patients and once again met financial targets for the year, achieving efficiency savings of £7.3 million to be reinvested into patient care.”