Pre-hospital Surgical Procedures

Our volunteer doctors offer a wide range of advanced skills that are not routinely provided by NHS pre-hospital resources. One of these very specialist skills is the ability to provide pre-hospital surgical intervention in the most extreme of circumstances.

All of our doctors have the experience, training and ability to perform surgical airways, resuscitative thoracotomy, emergency amputation and peri-mortem caesarean sections. These are significant surgical procedures that are performed in a last attempt to preserve life. Several of our volunteer doctors have been involved in cases where these have been performed.

  • A surgical airway is an incision made in the front of the neck to allow the patient to breath when there is an obstruction present.
  • A resuscitative thoracotomy involves opening the patient’s chest to expose the heart and lungs in penetrating chest injury.
  • Emergency amputation is the surgical removal of a limb that is trapped and either unable to be released or the patient’s life depends on rapid extrication.
  • Peri-mortem caesarean section is an emergency delivery of a baby from a mother who is in cardiac arrest in an attempt to improve the resuscitation attempt of the mother and preserve the life of the unborn child.
Each individual doctor carries all of the kit necessary at all times. In order to prepare for this the surgical kit bag has been designed in such a way that only the most essential equipment is carried. This improves the timeliness of the procedure and makes it as simple as possible.
These surgical procedures are only done in the extremes of illness or injury and in very specific circumstances. It is often said that the most difficult part of undertaking one of these procedures is making the decision to do it.

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