THE Welsh Ambulance Service says it has become the first in the UK to recruit pre-hospital emergency medicine trainees to its of frontline staff.
The Trust has appointed childhood friends James Chinery and Gareth Roberts to the role of Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine (PHEM) doctors, which allows critical care to be provided at the scene of an accident or severe illness.
They also have the ability to administer anaesthetic drugs, and sedate a patient if they cannot breathe for themselves.
Middlesborough-born James, who is being seconded from the Royal Army Medical Corps, and who has worked at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, said: “Previously, seriously injured or ill patients have been taken to their local hospital, but it has not always been the most appropriate place for them.
“Our knowledge and experience means we can advise where is best for a patient to travel, whether it is a specialist emergency department or stroke unit. It might mean travelling that bit further, but us being on scene means we can start that critical care.”
Newport-born Gareth, who now lives in Cardiff, and who previously worked at the University Hospital of Wales, added: “We’re here to assist the crew already on scene, and work as a team. We’re there if a patient needs that advanced care.”
Their appointment follows the launch of the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Clinical Strategy, which aims to provide the right service, in the right place, at the right time.
Richard Lee, Head of Clinical Services at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “The new PHEM doctors will work alongside our clinical team leaders and paramedics to ensure patients get the very best care available at the scene and during the transfer to hospital.
“There is clear evidence that victims of major trauma do better when they are treated quickly by a senior clinical decision maker. Patients suffering a heart attack or stroke benefit from treatment at a specialist coronary unit or stroke unit.
“Sometimes this means taking the patients past the local hospital. Our paramedics will sometimes need the skills of the PHEM doctor to facilitate these transfers.
“There is huge potential for pre-hospital care, and the co-ordination of that care to contribute more fully to integrated healthcare provision.”
James and Gareth went to Bassaleg School in Newport together, and began a 12-month contract with the service on Monday, September 2.
Each will work out of a rapid response vehicle or a Wales Air Ambulance - James in the north and Gareth in the south - and will be dispatched to appropriate incidents by the control centre.
Their appointment is a joint venture between the Wales Postgraduate Deanery, which provides their educational supervision, and the Welsh Ambulance Service, which provides their clinical placement.