Northlanders in need of urgent medical attention are benefiting from new diagnostic ultrasound equipment that has been introduced onboard the Northland Electricity Rescue Helicopters, speeding up diagnosis time during life-threatening emergencies. The machine is compact and, lightweight, making it ideal for the aeromedical operation, said the service. By early January, the team had already used it more than half a dozen times on injured patients.
The St John intensive care flight paramedics that are present on each flight have received comprehensive training on the new equipment. Paramedic Rob Keating says this advanced diagnostic tool will significantly assist in saving more lives: “Patients with abdominal or chest injuries can be quickly scanned by ultrasound, resulting in internal injuries being diagnosed with a high level of accuracy. Early diagnosis of internal injuries means the St John paramedics can decide on the best treatment for the patient, whether that be a change in treatment plan, or transporting them to an appropriate hospital for specialist care.”
The diagnostic ultrasound is a safe, painless and rapid imaging technique that uses high frequency sound waves to penetrate the human body. Echoes of these sound waves are detected and allow the clinician to have a 3D, real-time view of a patient’s internal organs.
Northland Emergency Services Trust CEO and chief pilot Peter Turnbull says the intensive care paramedics are now leading the charge in New Zealand, having undertaken specific training by emergency physicians: “Traditionally, ultrasounds were performed by doctors in the emergency department, but now there’s a worldwide trend for paramedics to take this technology and use it outside the hospital – in our case, the air. The new equipment will expand the care and service we provide to our patients, while benefiting the community as a whole. You never know when you might need it.”