Crack heart attack team get ‘medical Oscar’ award

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A PIONEERING unit which has more than doubled ­survival rates for heart attack victims has been honoured with a national prize.

The Resuscitation Rapid Response Unit, known as the 3RU team, won emergency medicine team of the year at the BMJ awards – dubbed the “medical Oscars” – for its lifesaving efforts.

The 24/7 on-scene resuscitation service – which specifically responds to patients in cardiac arrest – has been a huge hit since it launched on the streets of the Capital last year,

Working in conjunction with the Scottish Ambulance ­Service and the A&E department at the ERI, it has managed to increase survival rates from just ten to 25 per cent – amongst the highest in the world. The Scottish Government now plans on rolling it out across Scotland over the next few years.

David Caesar, clinical director for emergency medicine at NHS Lothian, said it was the result of years of research, training and team-work between emergency medicine and Scottish Ambulance staff.

He said: “There are lots of markers, but the one we all care about is being able to get patients who have dropped dead in the street into hospital in a state whereby they can leave hospital alive. That’s the real gold standard.

“The improvement in survival rates is really impressive and right up there with the centres of excellence across the world like Seattle and Oslo in Norway. I don’t think anybody really knows about it in Edinburgh and how fortunate they are to have it. It really has made a huge difference.”

The team, which consists of two doctors, 13 paramedics, a resuscitation officer, a research nurse and several medical students, are sent to calls where a cardiac arrest is suspected.

They use heart monitors to respond to changes in the patient’s condition with a device known as a Q-CPR, alerting medical staff if they need to change techniques, such as speeding up the rate of chest compressions.

Officials are now looking at how the scheme could be adapted for use in other parts of the country, such as rural areas where paramedics cover large areas, with estimates it will save 300 lives a year.

Mr Caesar said: “The idea is innovative but it’s not in terms of needing fancy kit to make it happen. This is all about humans doing what they can do really well at a relatively basic level, with good teamwork, good leadership and good feedback mechanisms.”

At the awards, judges Professor Jonathan Benger and Dr Chris Lacy praised the team for their collaborative work ethic and impressive results on minimal budget.

Mr Benger said: “The scheme is clearly having a ­significant impact on survival in Edinburgh and is set to save even more lives as the Scottish Government plans to roll it out across the country over the next few years”.

kate.pickles@edinburghnews.com