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High-flying paramedic boosts research team
Birmingham-based researchers have enlisted the expertise of a Midlands Air Ambulance Charity HEMS paramedic to help carry out a groundbreaking study.
Jim Hancox has been drafted into an NIHR Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre (SRMRC) team which is investigating the effectiveness of giving patients blood products after a major injury before reaching hospital.
Jim’s role, as a research critical care paramedic, is to coordinate the logistics of RePHILL (REsuscitation with Pre-HospItaL bLood products), the UK’s first trial in which eligible patients attended to by emergency teams will be recruited and randomly allocated treatment with blood products or standard care.
“Currently some ambulances and air ambulances in the UK give patients blood products at the scene of an incident while others give a saline drip,” said Jim, who has worked for MAAC for ten years.
“There is currently no robust evidence demonstrating that giving pre-hospital blood products is beneficial and, of course, there are significant clinical, logistical and financial consequences to giving all patients this treatment.”
Jim’s first challenge is to coordinate the recruitment of 25 patients for the pilot phase of the study, which is being led by Dr Nicholas Crombie, consultant trauma anaesthetist at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and a doctor with MAAC, and Gavin Perkins, Professor of Critical Care Medicine at the University of Warwick and a consultant at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust.
“Anyone who is suspected to be actively bleeding as the result of a traumatic injury, is over the age of 16 and not pregnant can be included in the trial,” explained Jim.
“The blood products we will be using will be a combination of O-negative blood (the universal group which can be given to anyone) and freeze-dried plasma. We will, of course, ensure that people who may not wish to receive blood products, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, are identified and specifically excluded from the trial.”
Jim, who lives in Malvern with his wife Bernice, loves his job as a Midlands Air Ambulance Charity flight paramedic, having retrained after working as a baker.
“I am doing my dream job. I never tire of flying in a helicopter and I am proud to now also be working with the SRMRC research team on RePHILL. Being part of a trial which could change NHS practice is very exciting.”
When not at work Jim is studying for a master’s degree in advanced critical care practice and is also a keen triathlete.
“As a flight paramedic, it’s really important to keep fit. The three elements of triathlon really help and it’s a great way to wind down after a busy day. I love the social side of the sport too, stopping for coffee, cake and a chat on a long cycle ride with my local triathlon club makes it all worthwhile!”
The SRMRC team are working with colleagues from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, University of Birmingham, University of Warwick, Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, West Midlands Ambulance Service, East Anglia Air Ambulance, Essex and Herts Air Ambulance, MAGPAS Helimedix, The Air Ambulance Service and the NHS Blood and Transplant Service.
The trial is being managed by the University of Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit (BCTU), a UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) registered trials unit with experience in co-ordinating large scale multi-centre clinical trials.