Patients across Sydney are set to benefit from a clinical trial that will mobilise potentially life-saving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment for those in cardiac arrest.
Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation – or ECMO – is a form of heart and lung bypass which provides blood flow and oxygen to the brain, heart and other vital organs.
This allows time to identify and treat the cause of the cardiac arrest. Until now, however, the treatment has only been available within the hospital setting.
Today, the NSW Government announced a new innovative clinical trial which will go a step further, making a cardiac bypass machine mobile.
The staffing model of this trial is a world-first, with critical care paramedics working alongside specialist pre-hospital critical care doctors in a dedicated vehicle to treat cardiac arrest patients.
“Our doctors and paramedics are well-equipped to respond to cardiac arrests within the community, with all of our ambulances fitted out with vital equipment including mechanical chest compression devices and medications,” said NSW Ambulance Chief Executive, Dr Dominic Morgan.
“This trial will go a step further, taking a cardiac bypass machine out on the road for the first time in NSW.”
Taking ECMO to the patient can increase their rate of survival and a good neurological outcome by getting them onto the treatment earlier.
For ECMO to be effective, patients must be placed onto the machine within an hour of their cardiac arrest.
Mobilising ECMO has the potential to increase the survival rate of some patients in cardiac arrest from less than 5% to around 30%.
NSW Ambulance has a dedicated clinician working within the control centre who identifies cardiac arrest patients who are suitable for ECMO and notifies the team immediately.
To be placed on ECMO, a patient must be eligible according to specific criteria set up as part of this trial.
The trial is now underway, with 1 vehicle currently operating 2 days per week.
Westmead Hospital, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney are participating in the trial by receiving patients that have been put on ECMO by NSW Ambulance.
“We are embracing innovative, new and effective methods to improve health outcomes,” said Minister for Health, Ryan Park.
“Where possible, we want to be able to provide care where and when a patient needs it. In instances of cardiac arrest – time is particularly of the essence.
“This world leading initiative can save time to treatment and has the potential to save lives.”