Date: 16 August 2019

Set up in 2009 in response to the national terrorist threat, North West Ambulance Service’s (NWAS) Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) this year celebrates its tenth birthday.

Trained up to a national standard, the team of 84 experienced paramedics, split between two sites in Manchester and Liverpool, use specialist equipment and skills to safely access and treat patients in difficult and hazardous conditions.

NWAS was one of the first ambulance services to implement HART in the country. The team members are trained and equipped to safely work at heights, in confined spaces, in both swift and still water and use breathing apparatus, refreshing these skills every seven weeks.

Joe Barrett, Head of Special Operations for NWAS, said: “Prior to HART, ambulance clinicians would often have to stand back when faced with a hazardous incident and wait for specialist support from fire and rescue services or police for them to bring the patient back to a place of safety.

“By providing specialist paramedics with the training and equipment to be able to risk assess and manoeuvre through difficult and hazardous environments, they are now able to access patients at the point of injury so that life-saving medical intervention can begin immediately. They can then continually manage the patient’s condition to avoid further injury whilst partner agencies provide the rescue element.”

In a large scale or major incident, the team is able to quickly identify the most seriously injured patients, prioritising and treating those patients in need of help the quickest. HART paramedics are then able to relay back information regarding the situation and size of the required ambulance response to control as well as set up a casualty collection point and provide life-saving clinical early interventions. 

By training and exercising with their emergency services colleagues, they are able to plan and prepare for major incidents, creating strong and effective working relationships and providing a streamlined and strategic response to complex situations.

Joe continues: “Over the last ten years, the team has gone from strength to strength. The constant training the paramedics undergo, along with the equipment they use, is second to none and has proven to be life-saving on numerous occasions.

 “Using their unique problem solving skills, teamwork and co-ordination, they are able to keep calm under pressure and apply their skills and training to help patients in a wide-range of unexpected and difficult situations.

“I am extremely proud of the whole team, they work together amazingly, knowing each other’s individual strengths and supporting each other after difficult incidents, they’re like one big family!”

Introducing its second fleet of high-specification vehicles in December 2018, the team has advanced equipment and technology which allows the paramedics to set up their own communications network in remote locations, provide an ongoing response over days and months if necessary and travel over difficult terrain.

HART is primarily reserved for complex, large scale or major incidents such as serious road traffic collisions or entrapments. The team will respond to incidents were the patient would benefit from additional skills and equipment or if additional assistance is required.

Notable incidents in recent years include major flooding in Cumbria and Greater Manchester as well as gas explosions, rescues from cranes, the Manchester Arena attack and the Bosley Mill explosion.

Outside of responding to emergencies, the team members keep busy making sure that their equipment is fully compliant, their clinical skills are refreshed and they are kept up to date on key changes nationally and within the trust. They also undertake regular fitness tests and often attend community events promoting the work of the ambulance service.

Special Message from Israel’s Deputy Health Minister

Author: M.K. Yakov Litzman

Published in: Summer 2018 Edition of Ambulance Today Magazine

M.K. Yakov Litzman, Deputy Minister of Health for Israel on Magom David Adom 

Magen David Adom is Israel’s National EMS and Blood Services Organisation as declared in the 1950 MDA law. MDA started out from humble roots 88 years ago with a single ambulance-style response in Tel Aviv, and now, along with the State of Israel that has just celebrated its 70th Independence Day, MDA has a great deal of which to be proud. It is Israel’s National EMS Provider, both in times of peace and war, which has the responsibility of preparing and responding to all kinds of emergencies. It is also a leading educator of both the general public as well as a wide variety of health care professionals, and is Israel’s largest volunteer organisation. 

MDA’s Paramedics and EMTs, who consist of more than 25,000 people, including all the first-responders’ organizations, are amongst the most highly trained and qualified in the world, providing professional and efficient pre-hospital emergency medical care to the millions of citizens in Israel, along with those visiting this special country. 

Magen David Adom instils the value of volunteering starting with the very young and through to the very old. MDA’s volunteers are a major driving force, learning the importance of life-saving skills, providing them to the public and then teaching these skills to others. It is a never-ending chain of survival. 

The State of Israel is proud that MDA is its representative both at home and abroad, having provided humanitarian aid at scenes of several natural disasters such as in Nepal or the Philippines and even in the USA. MDA has sent rescue teams to scenes of terror across the world too; both aiding local communities as well as repatriating Israelis back home. MDA has also provided Mass Casualty Incident training to many other organisations across the world and is recognised as a global leader on the subject. 

Alongside the provision of emergency pre-hospital care, Magen David Adom collects, processes and provides almost all of Israel’s blood and blood components, potentially saving three lives with every unit of blood that is collected. In this way, many more members of the community become a vital link in saving the lives of others. 

Magen David Adom is the pride of Israel – it is a showcase of its people, its technology and medical capabilities, and of its volunteer spirit. The Israeli Health Ministry appreciates and applauds Magen David Adom for all that it does to save lives, both here in Israel and across the world. 

With high esteem, 

Yours sincerely, 

M.K. Yakov Litzman 

Deputy Minister of Health, Israel