London’s Air Ambulance Charity
Every year, in London, the ambulance service treats over 4,000 patients who have had a cardiac arrest. Less than 10% of patients survive to get home and those that do often suffer permanent damage to vital organs, such as their brain. Efforts to improve survival have not had a significant impact (e.g. bystander CPR) and the socioeconomic burden is considerable as more than half of patients are of working age.
For some patients who have a cardiac arrest in hospital, there is a technology called Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO-CPR). This effectively replaces the function of the heart and lungs, by taking blood out of the body, adding oxygen, and returning it under pressure. This has resulted in increased survival rates without brain damage. Studies show the faster ECMO-CPR can be deployed after a patient collapses, the better their chances of survival. Patients suffering refractory cardiac arrest in the community often don’t survive to reach hospital, so we plan to bring this technology to them within 60 minutes of a 999 call being made.
London’s Air Ambulance Charity is working together with London Ambulance Service and Barts Health NHS Trust to launch a 12-month service evaluation of pre-hospital ECMO-CPR. Using our rapid response cars and helicopters, the ECMO-CPR team will operate one day a week, serving the 10 million people who visit, live and work in London.
This project builds upon a successful ECMO-CPR feasibility study and is the first time this model of care has been delivered anywhere in the UK. We will share our findings, contributing to an improved understanding of this patient group and helping to pave the way for the establishment of a pan-London ECMO-CPR service.
We simply cannot deliver this procedure in a pre-hospital setting without an ECMO machine and are delighted that the Jude Morris Innovation and Development Fund is supporting us with a grant of £10,000 towards the cost of an ECMO machine.