Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited
Instructors put into practice what they teach
Two paramedics travelling to Cyprus as part of a medical training team put their experience to good use when one of the passengers on the plane became unconscious.
The paramedics, Paul Westaway, emergency planning officer from the West Country Ambulance Service, and Malcolm Woollard, assistant chief ambulance officer from the Welsh Ambulance Service, were alerted to the incident by the increased activity and unrest in the aircraft aisle, five rows ahead.
Paul, first at the scene, took over from the crew and assessed the patient. A 53-year-old female tourist was unconscious with very low blood pressure and a weak pulse. Once they had moved her to a more comfortable position on the floor and administered oxygen the patient started to make signs of recovery and regain consciousness.
Thanks to the support and quick actions of the crew the pilot reduced the altitude of the plane from 5,000ft to 3,500ft, in order to reduce the cabin pressure, which eased the passenger's serious condition. On landing Paul and Malcolm handed the patient over to the Cypriot Ambulance service who were already prepared and waiting at Larnaca airport.
The crew of the Cyprus Airways flight, from Heathrow to Larnaca, presented the two lifesavers with a bottle of champagne as a small token of thanks for all they had done.
"As paramedics we respond at any time and in any place." Paul stressed: "We revert to our immediate care skills and use what ever equipment is available to us; to aid casualty recovery." Immediate care was also the theme for the Major Incident Medical Management and Support course (MIMMS), at which the paramedics were on their way to teach. Eight instructors from medical services, both military and civil, came to Cyprus at the request and co-ordination of Major Malcolm Russell to train the Sovereign Base Emergency Services Island-wide.
These courses were started by Lieutenant Colonel Tim Hodgetts, Professor of Emergency Medicine and Trauma, in 1994, and it aims to teach medical and associated emergency services the skills to handle all hazards that lead to major medical emergencies such as the Paramali fire or the Paddington train crash.
"We hope that by doing these three-day 'all hazards' intensive courses the medical commander will be MIMMS trained, should a major incident occur", said Tim. "This will make them better equipped to deal with the incident."