HELICOPTER EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE

Published: 14/07/2005, Volume II5, No. 115 Page 6

A study day for the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service at the Royal London Hospital, which handled the largest number of victims from Thursday's terrorist attacks, helped to keep the number of fatalities down.

Eighteen HEMS doctors were able to travel straight to the sites of the bomb blasts via helicopter and rapid response vehicles from the site, where they were taking part in a clinical governance day.

The hospital, which is the base for HEMS, would only have had one of the service's doctors available at the time if it had not been for the monthly meeting.

Among the 208 people it treated, the Royal London had one fatality as well as a number of amputees, some of whom had to have both legs removed. Seven patients were still unconscious in intensive care at the time of going to press.

But Barts and the London trust chief executive Paul White said the situation could have been bleaker had it not been for the 'good fortune' of having the HEMS doctors on site.

'We were able to fly them to the different sites and get a much better coverage of medical staff on the incident sites than we would have otherwise been able to, ' said Mr White.

'Victims got faster treatment... and we stabilised the incident sites better. [The victims] were also expertly triaged by the doctors from HEMS.

'That would have both saved lives and minimised the impact of injury.

I am sure there were limbs that would otherwise have been lost that were salvaged because of that.' Mr White said he was 'immensely proud' of hospital staff, many of whom walked into work and stayed overnight to help with the response.

'They are just an absolutely fantastic team, without exception. Nonclinical as well as clinical staff performed with amazing professionalism, ' he said.