Magpas flying high in support of Covid-19 patients

Magpas doctors Becky Morris and Anne Booth.

A Magpas crew was the first air ambulance team in the East of England to carry out a national inter-hospital transfer of a critically ill Covid-19 patient. Magpas doctors Becky Morris and Anne Booth. - Credit: MAGPAS AIR AMBULANCE

A Magpas crew was the first air ambulance team in the East of England to carry out a national inter-hospital transfer of a critically ill Covid-19 patient by air.

Magpas Air Ambulance doctor Becky Morris and critical care paramedic Ollie Robinson undertook the charity’s first transfer flight on Monday January 18.

Then on Thursday January 21 another team responded to the charity's second Covid-19 call-out.

Magpas Air Ambulance doctor Rebecca Morris

A Magpas crew was the first air ambulance team in the East of England to carry out a national inter-hospital transfer of a critically ill Covid-19 patient. Magpas Air Ambulance doctor Rebecca Morris - Credit: MAGPAS AIR AMBULANCE

Becky said: "Not only do air transfers mean we can support hospitals across the country at such a difficult time, but flying patients limits their time outside of an intensive care unit and therefore limits the risks as much as possible.”

Despite their training, Becky said that air transfers are complex and can be difficult to undertake. 


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"Being in the back of the aircraft for a long period of time, in full PPE, caring for a very unwell Covid-19 positive patient on a ventilator is challenging to say the least. 

"Particularly as each transfer takes around four to six hours – but the equipment we carry in the air ambulance is the same level you find in a hospital."

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To cover the increase in activity, the charity aims to double its daytime capacity and have an additional team ready to help when a transfer is undertaken. 

Magpas Air Ambulance doctor Anne Booth

A Magpas crew was the first air ambulance team in the East of England to carry out a national inter-hospital transfer of a critically ill Covid-19 patient. Magpas Air Ambulance doctor Anne Booth. - Credit: MAGPAS AIR AMBULANCE

Anne Booth, Magpas Air Ambulance trustee and doctor, was heavily involved in setting up transfers across the region.

She said: "Due to the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and a surge in cases across the country, hospitals in some areas are reaching capacity. 

"Therefore, they need to transfer patients to hospitals which have the capabilities to give them the precise care they need at that time.

“Critically ill, ventilated patients can be very unstable, so to move them long distances is challenging and requires specialist skills and equipment that only a critical care team such as Magpas Air Ambulance can provide.”

Magpas Air Ambulance team in visors and donated PPE

A Magpas crew was the first air ambulance team in the East of England to carry out a national inter-hospital transfer of a critically ill Covid-19 patient. Magpas Air Ambulance team in visors and donated PPE - Credit: MAGPAS AIR AMBULANCE

The national transfers that Magpas are being called out to are originating from hospitals in the South East of England and flying to those in the Midlands and the North.

Natalie Church, director of operations at Magpas Air Ambulance, said: "The complexity of the decision making and communications required at every level to facilitate these transfers is not to be underestimated. 

"However, with a state of the art helicopter, the right equipment and training and strict decision making processes in place to ensure we can maintain emergency medical cover in our core region of Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and beyond, Magpas Air Ambulance is ready to support the NHS when needed. 

"I’m immensely proud of our team who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and continue to go above and beyond to support this national effort.

"We exist to save lives and we want to do that in any way we can.”

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