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Whitechapel’s London Air Ambulance pioneers new brain cooling treatment

PUBLISHED: 10:00 05 May 2012

Flying over London... fancy dress prize in air ambulance fun run

Flying over London... fancy dress prize in air ambulance fun run

HEMS

London’s Air Ambulance, based at Whitechapel’s Royal London Hospital, has become the first in the UK to trial a novel device for cooling the brain in a bid to save the lives of more cardiac arrest patients.

How RhinoChill works

By using the RhinoChill device, the brain and heart will already be cooling when the patient hopefully regains a pulse, which will protect the brain from damage due to the lack of oxygen and importantly also further damage caused when the circulation returns to normal; a condition known as reperfusion injury.

Research has shown that the sooner brain temperature can be reduced following a potentially damaging event, the better it can be protected from permanent injury.

The medical teams are also trained to deliver anaesthesia and sedation thus allowing oxygenation and ventilation to be optimised prior to arrival at hospital.

Using an evaporative nasal spray called RhinoChill, the air ambulance’s ground-based physician response unit, known as the cool car, will aim to get to East Enders suffering cardiac arrest before they are taken to hospital and cool the brain and core body temperature to reduce the risk of brain damage.

Thousands of people die every year from sudden cardiac arrest and doctors say that cooling the patient in a process called therapeutic hypothermia has been shown to improve survival and limit brain damage.

The latest research suggests that cooling the patient early, at the time of resuscitation, will have the greatest benefit.

The College of Emergency Medicine has given the air ambulance a research gran to undertake this project.

Dr Gareth Davies, medical director of London’s Air Ambulance, said: “London’s Air Ambulance prides itself on delivering medical innovation to increase the survival and recovery of its patients.

Our cool car sits alongside our Helicopter Emergency Medical Service and provides advanced medical care to medical emergencies, such as cardiac arrest.

“I would like to thank the College of Emergency Medicine for their contribution towards this project and we look forward to sharing our findings on completion of the study.”

RhinoChill has already been trialled successfully by emergency medical services in other countries, and the air ambulance says the aim of the study will be to assess the feasibility of using this device in the UK.

The study will take place over one year and if proven successful the device could be trialled by London’s Air Ambulance for use with other conditions, such as head injuries.

The service, which delivers a doctor and paramedic team that can provide advanced medical care to critically ill Londoners, is now in operation in the East End.

Dr Richard Lyon, registrar in emergency medicine and pre-hospital care, said: “Undertaking novel resuscitation research is always very challenging but the Physician Response Unit of London’s Air Ambulance provides the ideal means to assess new ways of improving survival and patient care from sudden cardiac arrest. This project will provide us with invaluable pilot data so we can continue to undertake cutting edge pre-hospital research.”


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