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Rescue helicopter carries new equipment

Last updated 05:00 14/11/2012

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The Auckland Westpac rescue helicopter is the first rescue helicopter service in New Zealand to carry portable ultrasound equipment, giving it the potential to save more lives.

Emergency doctor Chris Denny says the new ultrasound equipment assists with early detection of a range of conditions, including internal bleeding and could be the difference between life or death.

"Undiagnosed internal bleeding is one of the leading causes of death following a trauma so the addition of the portable ultrasound equipment gives the rescue helicopter service the potential to save more lives.

"It enables early visualisation of collapsed lungs, assessing the position of the foetus in a pregnant patient and measuring the foetal heart rate, guidance in the performance of critical interventions, such as gaining vascular access for placing an intravenous drip and assisting in the diagnosis of what is causing a patient to suffer from shock," he says.

Careful diagnosis allows for more timely critical interventions and faster time to definitive care.

Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust chief executive Bob Parkinson says the service is also unique in that it is the first rescue helicopter service in New Zealand to routinely include a specialist emergency doctor in the flight crew.

"This expands the care the service is able to offer patients," he says.

Point-of-care ultrasound is already in use in Europe and parts of Australia.

SkyCity Auckland Community Trust provided a significant contribution to fund the new equipment.

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