South African doctor learns from Great North Air Ambulance in UK

South African doctor learns from Great North Air Ambulance in UK

3-Jun-2019 Source: Great North Air Ambulance

Techniques and equipment developed by the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) are being adopted by South African doctors to benefit patients on the other side of the world.
The GNAAS team hosted Neville Vlok, chief medical officer at HALO air ambulance, based near Johannesburg, who visited the UK on a fact-finding mission.

Dr Vlok, 30, spent time embedded with GNAAS’ medical teams as they responded to incidents in the region. He also took time to find out about the software system devised by the charity and developed by Newcastle firm Surge.

The ARC-EMS system is an operational and clinical management and audit platform which utilises electronic patient records. It has two main functions – coordinating rescue missions and as a research tool.

In the event of an emergency, the system is used to organise available resources such as helicopters, road vehicles and clinical teams, and track what equipment and drugs are being used in a live cloud-based environment. Clinicians on scene can securely upload patient treatment information, giving an overall picture of the case which can then be used for their ongoing care.

The data can then be audited at a later point to examine the broader picture of pre-hospital care, any emergent trends and how treatments affect outcomes.

GNAAS clinicians are already using the information gathered to research new developments that will improve its service in the region.

Dr Vlok said he was impressed by what he had seen and that he would be looking to take ARC-EMS back home, along with other findings from his time at GNAAS.

“If I could copy and paste this operation, I would tomorrow,” he said. “Everyone who works here should be very proud of what they have achieved. It’s incredible. They are striving for excellence in everything, not just the clinical side but the whole operation.

“In South Africa, we are very research poor. ARC-EMS is an incredible operational tool but the real value would be in research and seeing how we can give our service a tweak to improve the care we offer.”

Andy Mawson, director of operations at GNAAS said: “It was a real pleasure to host Neville during his trip to the UK. HALO is a forward-thinking service and it was an excellent opportunity to share practice with another air ambulance outside of the UK.”

Mr Mawson said the ARC system has allowed GNAAS to collect and audit a huge amount of operational and clinical data.

He added: “By analysing this data we have already been able to make improvements across the operation in various different elements of our service delivery.”

Ryan Davies, managing director at Surge said: “We are incredibly proud of ARC-EMS, and what we have achieved in such a short time, also how fast the interest worldwide has been in the software platform – strengthening our mission to be the world’s number one cloud data platform for high performance medic teams.”


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