Live streaming cameras to improve air ambulance care

Mar 23, 2017 | News

South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) paramedics and local hospital consultants who work on the Thames Valley Air Ambulance are now equipped with live streaming cameras when they are sent to incidents.

This new innovation allows staff working on the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) Desk in SCAS’ clinical coordination centre to see live footage streams when the paramedics and doctors get to an emergency scene.

Dr Syed Masud, Consultant in Emergency Medicine & Pre-Hospital Medicine (HEMS), Clinical Governance Lead for Thames Valley Air Ambulance, and Senior Lecturer in Trauma and Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine, Oxford University, said:

“When senior clinicians are being asked by staff at the scene of a medical emergency or major trauma for advice, those clinicians can now see live footage of what is happening. This not only saves valuable time – and in the life-threatening emergencies that air ambulance staff are sent to, every second counts – but also means more accurate advice can be given because the actual patient or incident can be seen, which improves the already high quality of care provided still further.”

The live camera footage, known as real time visualisation, also has a number of other benefits, including:

  • As a training aid when new doctors and paramedics are starting to work on the air ambulance
  • To review and learn from selected cases to ensure best practice can be embedded across the helicopter emergency medical service
  • Prevent HEMS staff from being interrupted by staff from the clinical coordination centre as they are performing critical, clinical procedures
  • Allowing HEMS Desk staff to proactively pre-order key supplies, such as blood or plasma packs, if they can see stocks being used at an incident so the air ambulance is ready sooner for the next mission

Dr Ed Norris-Cervetto, HEMS Doctor and a Registrar in Emergency & Pre-Hospital Medicine at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust wearing the live streaming equipment.

The real time visualisation project has been subject to rigorous testing to ensure it conforms to SCAS IT governance requirements. The camera streams information live to the HEMS Desk in the clinical coordination centre and all footage is stored on secure, encrypted SCAS servers – not on the camera itself.