• Ambulance CPAP saves lives: why don't we use it?

      Mullen, Robert (2013-12)
      Abstract published with permission. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is an established in-hospital therapy for the treatment of multiple aetiologies of breathlessness, primarily for acute cardiogenic pulmonary oedema (ACPE) due to acute exacerbations of congestive heart failure (CHF), but also (amongst others): exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and pneumonia (Gray et al, 2009; Wesley et al, 2011). The use of CPAP as an adjunctive treatment for ACPE patients in front-line ambulances has been proven to improve patient outcome, preventing them from reaching the ‘point of no return’ and a downward spiral into total respiratory failure. This article will discuss current UK ambulance practice and examine the issues surrounding the introduction and use of CPAP as an adjunctive therapy in the treatment of ACPE, secondary to acutely exacerbated CHF, whilst also briefly discussing its use in other aetiologies of breathlessness.
    • Cardiac arrest in the young: rare but possible

      Mallon, Gareth (2011-04)
      Abstract published with permission. It can be hard to believe that someone young and active may be at risk from heart problems, but each week in the UK at least 12 apparently fit and healthy young people die from undiagnosed heart conditions. Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) is a charity that works to support families affected by the sudden cardiac death of a young person, to help young people who have been diagnosed with life threatening heart conditions and to reduce the number of tragedies that occur. 2010 marked the 15th anniversary year of CRY. Here, Gareth Mallon, a community paramedic and developing tutor for the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS), discusses his personal involvement with the charity in more detail.
    • Discerning the age of a child

      Whitley, Gregory; Lord, Bill (2018-09)
      Abstract published with permission. In this comment, Gregory Whitley and Bill Lord note the disparity in age ranges used to define a 'child', across both clinical guidelines and research, and its significant implications for paramedic practice.
    • Looking back to 2008 — Looking forward to 2028

      Mallinson, Tom; Gregory, Pete; Sibson, Lynda; Peate, Ian; Eaton, Georgette; Whitley, Gregory; Layland, Adam; Sudron, Ceri (2018-10)
    • Management of patients following cold water immersion

      Strange, Barnaby; Desjardins, Mathew (2013-06)
      Abstract published with permission. Sudden immersion in cold water results in a number of physiological changes within the human body. This disruption of homeostasis can have a detrimental effect on normal body function and lead to life-threatening consequences including drowning, hypothermia and sudden death. This article will examine the changes in physiology from the point of initial immersion through to rescue or death. Particular attention is given to the profound effects upon the respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological systems as a consequence of cold water immersion. This is then reviewed and observed from the perspective of paramedics practising within the United Kingdom, who may face challenges that arise from this phenomenon. The pre-hospital assessment of immersed patients will be discussed in order to identify and address potential and immediate life threats, with specific focus on rewarming hypothermic patients post immersion.
    • The new coronavirus disease: what do we know so far?

      Tang, Sammer; Brady, Mike; Mildenhall, Joanne; Rolfe, Ursula; Bowles, Alexandra; Morgan, Kirsty (2020-05-05)
      View Article Abstract Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a novel coronavirus that causes the new disease COVID-19. Symptoms range from mild to severe with a higher incidence of severe cases in patients with risk factors such as older age and comorbidities. COVID-19 is mainly spread through the inhalation of respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing or via contact with droplet-contaminated surfaces. Paramedics should be aware that some aerosol-generating procedures may put them at a higher risk of contracting the virus via possible airborne transmission. Use of remote triage clinical assessment is likely to increase as a result of the pandemic. There is no curative drug treatment for the virus and some medications may exacerbate its effects or make patients more susceptible to it. Evidence and guidelines are evolving on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. Paramedics should keep up to date with the latest clinical guidance from their employers. Abstract published with permission.
    • Paramedic prescribing: a potion for success or a bitter pill to swallow?

      Griffin, Dylan (2015-05)
      Abstract published with permission. In a climate of unprecedented demand on healthcare services, ageing demographics, population growth through immigration, a reduction in junior doctors’ working hours, and overriding political agendas, the need to develop innovative new roles and expand the scope of practice for existing practitioners, including paramedics, is paramount if the NHS is to maintain resilience in an evolving healthcare system. Recent legislative changes now permit chiropodists/ podiatrists and physiotherapists to independently prescribe, further fuelling other allied health professions (AHPs), such as paramedics’ and radiographers’ desire to become future independent prescribers. Implementation has the potential to enhance patient/clinician experiences through improved access to medicines, and would significantly reduce the need for multi-disciplinary involvement per care episode, yielding cost-efficiency savings through reduced ambulance journeys, fewer avoidable admissions, further augmenting patient care delivery. Paramedic independent prescribing (PIP) would also elicit improved inter-professional collaboration, enhance employability and promote professional autonomy in evolving advanced practice roles. Such innovation requires legislative changes, but remains paramount if paramedics are to actively contribute towards tackling the increasing burden of unprecedented demand, limited resources, and ongoing commitment to achieve cost-efficiency savings within the modern NHS.
    • Paramedics and medicines: legal considerations

      England, Ed (2016-08)
      Abstract published with permission. This article will cover: l The relevant legislation relating to medicines and ambulance services l The restrictions that apply to different organisations or individuals regarding the possession of medicines l Regulations on the administration and supply of medicines l Patient Group Directions and Patient Specific Directions. The law in relation to the possession of medicines, administration to patients and the supply of medicines is separate. This article also provides guidance to ambulance services and ambulance clinicians on available options to ensure good patient access to medicines in England. The laws described also apply in Scotland and Wales but there are some different national processes. The law both enables and restricts access to medicines. However, it does require interpretation and a pharmacist can help with this. Where interpretation is contentious then organisations may obtain a legal opinion. Legal opinions can also differ, and can only be resolved in court.
    • Scabies: a problem that can really get under your skin

      Pocock, Helen (2012-01)
      Abstract published with permission. This article explores the assessment, diagnosis and current recommended treatment for scabies in the UK. There are many myths surrounding scabies which could lead to misdiagnosis. Using a case from clinical practice, some of the common features of a history suggestive of infestation are explored and the social and psychological effects of such a diagnosis are considered. As a result of reading this article, prehospital practitioners should be more aware of scabies and more able to identify it in the community setting.
    • Spotlight on Research

      Cormack, Stef; Whitley, Gregory; Gregory, Pete (2020-03-12)
      Harari Y, Riemer R, Jaff E, Wacht O, Bitan Y.Paramedic equipment bags: how their position during out-of-hospital cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) affect paramedic ergonomics and performance. Appl Ergonomics. 2020; 82:102977 The position of bags during an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) may not be seen as a priority for many paramedics. However, Harari et al (2019) argue that paramedics are at a high risk of musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries and that paramedic performance is affected by where bags are placed and moved during an OHCA. Their study examined 12 teams of paramedics (two per team) during a simulated OHCA. Measurements included bag placement, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) quality, physiological effort and biomechanical loads. Although conducted in Israel, personnel and equipment bags were not dissimilar to UK practice. Results established that despite a relatively low mean number of bag movements (6.8), the mean biomechanical load force exerted was high (89N), resulting in 72% of paramedic movements associated with a high to very high risk of an MSK injury. The positioning of bags appeared to negatively affect CPR quality, with a mean of 68% of compressions within the recommended rate, and only 27% within the recommended depth. Physiologically, there was no significant difference between paramedics' heart rates or perceived effort. The findings highlight the significant risk of MSK injury when moving bags and the possibility that a standardised layout may improve CPR quality. However, this is dependent on the patient location/position, number of paramedics attending and a team's ability to recognise tiredness/ineffective CPR. Whitley GA, Hemingway P, Law GR et al.Predictors of effective management of acute pain in children within a UK ambulance service: a cross-sectional study. Am J Emerg Med. 2019; In Press This retrospective observational study aimed to identify which children were more likely to achieve effective pain management when suffering acute pain and attended by a UK ambulance service. For the purpose of this study, effective pain management was defined as the abolition or reduction of pain by ≥2 out of 10 using the numeric pain rating scale, Wong-Baker FACES® scale or FLACC (face, legs, activity, crying and consolability) scale. Data for 2312 children were included in a multivariable logistic regression analysis which adjusted for a number of confounding factors including child age, child sex, type of pain, senior clinician experience, analgesia administration, nonpharmacological treatment administration, paramedic crew, hospital travel time and index of multiple deprivation. Results showed that children who were younger, attended by a paramedic, administered analgesia or living in an area of medium or low deprivation were significantly more likely to achieve effective pain management. A subgroup analysis showed that analgesia administration did not predict effective pain management for younger children aged 0–5 years; the authors hypothesised that non-pharmacological interventions are more effective in this age group. Qualitative research is in progress to help explain these findings. Wołoszyn P, Baumberg I, Baker D. The reliability of noninvasive blood pressure measurement through layers of autumn/winter clothing: a prospective study. Wilderness Environ Med. 2019; 30(3):227–235 Noninvasive blood pressure (NIBP) measurement is a key part of the cardiovascular assessment, and traditional teaching has emphasised the need to have direct contact between the cuff and bare skin in order to obtain accurate readings. This is not always feasible in the out-of-hospital environment where patients may be clad in multiple layers of clothing in the colder months. This prospective study investigated the reliability of NIBP measurements performed through two and three layers of autumn/winter clothing in two research groups: healthy volunteers and patients. NIBP measurements were made in a random order: on the exposed arm; on the arm covered by a standardised cotton and polar fabric test sleeve; and with the arm covered by a cotton-polar fabric and down jacket test sleeve. The time taken for measurement was also recorded. NIBP measurements were taken on 101 volunteers and 50 patients, and no clinically or statistically significant differences were found. Measuring over a sleeved arm extended the time of measurement by an average of 3.5 seconds in comparison with bare arm measurement. Although not conclusive, this study adds to earlier studies that have reported reliable results when NIBP was carried out over a layer of light clothing such as a cotton shirt or light sweater. Abstract published with permission.
    • Traumatic brain injuries: continuing dilemmas in the pre-hospital care arena

      Griffin, Dylan (2013-02)
      Abstract published with permission. This article examines the clinical assessment, diagnosis and management of an agitated traumatic brain-injured patient in the pre-hospital setting by a UK Helicopter Emergency Medical (HEMS) Team. Using a case study from clinical practice, the signs and symptoms, aetiology and clinical management options are discussed and compared against current best evidence, with the specific aims of improving mortality and morbity in critically-ill traumatic brain-injured patients.
    • Understanding a new model of leadership

      Johnson, David; Bainbridge, Peter; Hazard, Wendy (2013-12)
      Abstract published with permission. Leadership is an essential feature of the life of a paramedic. During incidents, whilst working with multi-agency colleagues, and within organisations, leadership is an expected quality of paramedics. Across health and social care organisations leadership is said to be of pivotal importance to future success. This has led to a large investment in leadership development programmes that organisations are now seeking to justify. Leadership as a concept is, however, complex and multifaceted. The nature of leadership has been debated over millennia and still disagreement exists as to how to define it. This paper utilises Critical Interpretive Synthesis to consider how approaches to leadership have developed over time. It concludes with a synthesising argument that leadership is a social construct; as such no single definition will ever be appropriate; however, the four elements that comprise the leadership equation should be considered if the paramedic leader is to be effective.