[A]s a busy operational paramedic for the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) and also a lecturer at the University of Cumbria for both the pre and post-registration paramedic programmes, you’d expect Susan Rhind to have little free time on her hands.
However, one of the modules she currently delivers to students, exploring issues surrounding obstetric emergencies and out-of-hospital births, has motivated her to drive forward an initiative that will undoubtedly help to save lives in the future.
As Susan explains: “Operational guidelines for maternity emergencies have recently been updated, and as chance would have it, I have also recently helped a mother deliver her baby, in a car on the side of a road.
“Current evidence-based practice is to assess the baby, dry them and then apply a hat and enable skin-to-skin contact with the mother, wrapping the baby and mother together.
“The priority after assessing the baby, is maintaining warmth to the baby, and whilst ambulance maternity packs may have the means to dry the baby (amongst the other medical components), currently not all maternity packs contain hats.”
With this in mind, Susan approached a charity based in Teesside called ‘Blue Light Babies‘ to see if they fancied taking on the project. As a result there are now over 1000 people knitting hats (including tiny ones for pre-term babies) and blankets (all of which meet IPC – infection prevention and control – standards) donating them free of charge for use in emergency situations.
Susan continues: “I spoke to NWAS to get the green light to have these added to the maternity items in ambulances, and have received confirmation from the Medical Director, the Advanced Paramedic (Maternity Lead) and the Support Services Manager, who calculated a total of 3500 hats are required to supply the whole of the NWAS.”
She concludes: “This is the result of amazing collaboration between staff at the University of Cumbria, the North West Ambulance Service and Blue Light Babies, and we now have the means to improve conditions for out-of-hospital births, by reducing the risk of babies being taken to delivery suites suffering from inadvertent hypothermia. The logistics involved were incredible but everything has come together to produce a wonderful outcome!”