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EDITIONS
Ambulances to get life-saving equipment
Ambulance
Ambulance equipment will be upgraded
All ambulances are to be fitted with hi-tech equipment designed to treat heart attack victims as quickly as possible.

It is hoped the measure, together with improvements in training for paramedics, could save 3,000 lives a year.


Training and equipping ambulance paramedics to provide thrombolysis for patients will save thousands of lives a year

Hazel Blears
Health Minister Hazel Blears announced on Tuesday that 14m is to be invested in equipping all front line ambulances with 12-lead ECG machines.

The machines can help to diagnose heart problems by monitoring the electrical activity of the heart.

The ambulances will also be provided with communications equipment so the ECG diagnosis data can be transmitted quickly from the ambulance while on route to hospital.

Paramedics will also be trained in the use of anti-clotting (thrombolysis) drugs, which will be made more widely available.

An audit of all pre-hospital cardiac emergency care will also be carried out, to help evaluate the impact the new equipment has on meeting targets.

Quicker treatment

Speaking at a London Ambulance Service conference, Ms Blears said: "Training and equipping ambulance paramedics to provide thrombolysis for patients will save thousands of lives a year.

"By giving them ECG equipment and training in thrombolytics, paramedics can diagnose heart attacks accurately and the results can be transmitted to A&E departments.

"If patients are able to get thrombolysis an hour sooner than if they had to wait to be taken to hospital, 3,000 lives a year will be saved."

Richard Diment, chief executive of the Ambulance Service Association, said: "The Association is particularly pleased that England's 8,500 paramedics will be trained in diagnosis and the use of thrombolytic equipment and drugs.

"Paramedics will be more effective in their frontline role because they will be able to undertake comprehensive treatment for heart attack patients.

"As a result of this faster and more direct response, we can expect thousands of lives to be saved. Timely treatment is everything to heart attack patients."

However, Jonathan Fox, of the Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel, said: "This development, although good news for patients, is a further example of the culture of empowering ambulance paramedics and technicians with further responsabilities without rewarding them financially for the professionalism and skills they have.

"If Ms Blears thinks a 3.6% increase on an average salary of around 19,000 is a satisfactory reward , think again!

"A nanny in London earns more than paramedics do in our capital city!"

See also:

10 Oct 00 | Health
20 Jul 00 | Health
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