The national transfer service provides the only intensive care aircraft in the country dedicated to transferring critically ill babies and children, at high-speed, from local hospitals to specialist paediatric and neonatal treatment centres.
The charity, aircraft provider Specialist Aviation Services (SAS) and NHS Clinicians, collaborated on a bespoke design to offer ECMO (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) and nitric oxide functionality onboard the AgustaWestland 169 aircraft.
ECMO, a system similar to a heart and lung bypass machine, is a temporary means of providing oxygen to the body when a child’s heart and/or lungs are not working properly and normal methods of intensive care are failing; and nitric oxide is an inhaled gas, used together with a ventilator, to treat respiratory failure in premature babies and infants.
Dr Claire Westrope, Consultant PICU and ECMO Intensivist and Lead Consultant at Leicester Children’s Hospital, said: “We are extremely excited to receive the ECMO modification for the Children’s Air Ambulance stretcher, which we have helped develop with SAS and TCAA.
“This will minimise transport times for the team and patients, enabling us to move patients quickly and safely over long distances; and increases access to ECMO for those patients who are geographically distant from specialist paediatric ECMO centres.”
Director of Completions at SAS, Jan-Marc van Dam, added: “Specialist Aviation Services are confronted daily with the realities of the air ambulance environment: medical technology advances, operating methods evolve and regulations change.
“Due to our close working relationship with The Children’s Air Ambulance, we keep at the forefront of medical technology; from developing an advanced paediatric intensive care interior through our innovative ECMO and nitric-oxide solution, to complying with the strictest oxygen safety regulations, we worked closely with the NHS clinical teams to ensure the equipment mounting was tailored to their operating procedures. Together, we are committed to helping the Children’s Air Ambulance achieve their missions safely, efficiently and, most importantly, save lives.”