A novel method of non-clinical dispatch is associated with a higher rate of critical Helicopter Emergency Medical Service intervention
de Coverley, Richard
Background - Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) are a scarce resource that can provide advanced emergency medical care to unwell or injured patients. Accurate tasking of HEMS is required to incidents where advanced pre-hospital clinical care is needed. We sought to evaluate any association between non-clinically trained dispatchers, following a bespoke algorithm, compared with HEMS paramedic dispatchers with respect to incidents requiring a critical HEMS intervention. Methods - Retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data from two 12-month periods was performed (Period one: 1st April 2014 – 1st April 2015; Period two: 1st April 2016 – 1st April 2017). Period 1 was a Paramedic-led dispatch process. Period 2 was a non-clinical HEMS dispatcher assisted by a bespoke algorithm. Kent, Surrey & Sussex HEMS (KSS HEMS) is tasked to approximately 2500 cases annually and operates 24/7 across south-east England. The primary outcome measure was incidence of a HEMS intervention.Results - A total of 4703 incidents were included; 2510 in period one and 2184 in period two. Variation in tasking was reduced by introducing non-clinical dispatchers. There was no difference in median time from 999 call to HEMS activation between period one and two (period one; median 7 min (IQR 4–17) vs period two; median 7 min (IQR 4–18). Non-clinical dispatch improved accuracy of HEMS tasking to a mission where a critical care intervention was required (OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.04–1.51, p = 0.02).Conclusion - The introduction of non-clinical, HEMS-specific dispatch, aided by a bespoke algorithm improved accuracy of HEMS tasking. Further research is warranted to explore where this model could be effective in other HEMS services.