Hamad Medical Corporation's Emergency Medical Services (EMS) rolled out the first phase of its night operations on October 1, enabling it to be ready to respond to emergencies in the outlying parts of Qatar from 6am until midnight.
"When we started four years ago, we only operated during the daylight hours of 6am to 6pm. Now we have extended our operations until midnight," said Khalid Shaheen, Operations Manager for Special Events and Public Relations at EMS. "The LifeFlight serves areas outside Doha, including the northern and southern parts of the country."
The LifeFlight service uses an aeromedical helicopter to ensure faster access for critical emergency care to areas which are too distant for road vehicles to reach quickly, improving survival rates. The helicopter is fitted out with advanced life support medical equipment as well as a radio device which communicates with the command center. It can carry three crew members - the pilot, a critical care paramedic and a Flight EMT and one patient in a critical or serious condition.
The LifeFlight crew is part of a highly trained team of experts specialized in Emergency Medical Services, providing high quality critical care services throughout Qatar with a range of rapid response vehicles, ambulances and the LifeFlight aeromedical helicopter. Last year, the LifeFlight crew received 799 calls, treating 425 patients at the scene of the emergency and transporting 288 patients to the hospital.
The EMS responds to 100-150 emergency calls per day, with about 32 percent of them being potentially life-threatening. Deciding whether a patient needs to be transported through the LifeFlight service is based on various factors, for instance, whether the patient is conscious or unconscious, if he is breathing or not, or if there is severe bleeding.
"The most common emergency cases are road traffic accidents or trauma patients. We also dispatch the LifeFlight for medical cases such as patients who have had a cardiac arrest, or are unconscious or not breathing, or otherwise very ill," said Shaheen. On average, response time takes about 18 to 20 minutes, depending on the location of the emergency.
"At the moment we are responding to about 60 calls a month during daylight hours. With the extension from 6pm to midnight, we expect this to increase to 70-80 calls a month," said Wayne Thomson, Manager of the Aeromedical Unit at EMS. "The vast majority of the calls are trauma emergencies: road traffic accidents or industrial accidents. Very few are actually medical calls."
"Historically, the demand for emergency service in the Life Flight's operational areas between midnight and 6am decreases substantially," Thomson added. Residents of Qatar - of which about 85 percent reside in Doha - will continue to have access to the ground-based critical care paramedic units 24 hours a day.
"The LifeFlight night operations' capacity is currently limited to a set of predetermined landing zones. In the future the number of landing zones will expand which will allow the service to access more areas at night." said Thomson. "As we expand, we will undertake training with all emergency services to assist with the safety of the landing zones."
Hamad Medical Corporation is the premier non-profit healthcare provider in Qatar. It was established by Emiri decree in 1979 and manages seven highly specialized hospitals, namely, Hamad General Hospital, Rumailah Hospital, Women's Hospital, Al Amal Hospital, Heart Hospital, Al Wakra Hospital and Al Khor Hospital. Since its establishment, HMC has rapidly developed medical facilities capable of providing state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment of diseases that previously could only be managed in overseas medical centers.
HMC prides itself in providing quality and cost-efficient healthcare for all patients regardless of nationality, in line with the State of Qatar's pledge of "Health for All". For this purpose, the Corporation implements a policy of continuous improvement of all management systems and patient care protocols. HMC's ethos is based on three key pillars which are Health, Education and Research.
For more information about HMC please visit www.hmc.org.qa.
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