Ambulance Trial For Space Agency Technology

November 13, 2017

The Scottish Ambulance Service has teamed up with the European Space Agency (ESA) to trial a new initiative which will see scans sent to the hospital direct from the ambulance. The new technology allows specialists who’re not on scene to assess the condition and needs of patients before they arrive at A&E.

“We’re taking diagnostic tools used in the emergency department into rural ambulances, making them available at the site of an emergency.”

Pilot Technology

The pilot scheme, known as SatCare, is being partially funded by ESA and tested by The University of Aberdeen and NHS Highland as well as the Scottish Ambulance Service. It’s an ultrasound and satellite communication system which has been installed in five ambulances that operate from Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.  Paramedics will be able to send high-quality video and ultrasound images ahead of a patient’s arrival at the hospital. This technology is particularly beneficial in rural areas where long journeys could potentially affect the patient’s treatment. Medical experts at the hospital can assess the videos and scans and provide advice to paramedics which could save lives.

Following tests on healthy volunteers, it’s now being used in emergency situations. The trial is focusing on several potentially life-threatening conditions such as major trauma, chest pain, shortness of breath, abdominal pain and circulatory shock.

Rural Ambulances

Prof Philip Wilson, director of the Centre for Rural Health, described the trial as “a landmark in rural emergency care research”.

Dr Leila Eadie, research fellow at the University of Aberdeen’s Centre for Rural Health, added: “We’re taking diagnostic tools used in the emergency department into rural ambulances, making them available at the site of an emergency.

“Previous studies have shown the biggest barrier to practical use of pre-hospital ultrasound is interpretation of the scans. We want to maximise the benefits of having ultrasound available without requiring paramedics to undertake extensive sonography training.”