The Scottish Ambulance Service uses Paramedic Response Units (PRU) in many parts of the country to ensure the fastest possible response to 999 calls. The vehicles deliver an early intervention for emergency patients before they are transported to hospital by emergency ambulance.
Different types of vehicle are used to best suit the area they operate in. In urban areas, cars, motorbikes and bicycles operate, whereas in some areas 4x4 vehicles are more appropriate. Each vehicle carries all the life saving drugs and equipment that a normal ambulance uses, however they do not usually transport patients to hospital. Once an emergency ambulance arrives, the paramedic will transfer the patient to the care of the ambulance crew, so that the patient can be transported to hospital. This means that the paramedic is available to attend the next emergency call, rather than be tied up for some time travelling to hospital and back.
Early intervention can be the difference between life and death in some emergencies and it is the function of the paramedic to stabilise every patient rather than rush them immediately to hospital. This may take up twenty minutes, depending on the nature of the medical emergency. In 99% of the cases they attend the emergency is over once the PRU paramedic arrives.
In rural areas, where journeys to hospital are longer and so the ambulance will be out of area for longer, the use of Paramedic Response Units ensures that a paramedic always remains in the area to respond to emergencies. Similarly, in urban areas, where the number of 999 calls is highest, Paramedic Response Units achieve an even faster response whilst the ambulance is on its way.