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Ornge’s new interiors will improve patient safety

January 25, 2013  By Carey Fredericks

Jan. 25, 2013, Mississauga, Ont. - Ornge, Ontario's provider of air ambulance and related services, is improving patient safety with a new interim interior for its fleet of AW139 helicopters that will allow paramedics to perform CPR at any time during flight.

"We transport the most critically injured or ill patients, which means our paramedics must have an effective working environment," said Dr. Andrew McCallum, new President and CEO of Ornge.  "The new interim interior solution will make it much easier for our paramedics to provide the care that patients need, as we continue to improve patient safety."

In early 2012, Ornge's new leadership acted immediately to address concerns brought forward by frontline paramedics about their ability to perform certain medical procedures effectively in the AW139 interior.  On Feb. 2, 2012, a temporary exemption was granted by Transport Canada to use the existing interior with modifications for one year. This addressed the most significant clinical concerns, since it allows for life-saving CPR to be performed during all phases of flight if necessary for the patient.

Following the exemption, a committee of Ornge paramedics, pilots, and operations and aviation staff worked to review and approve a new interim interior solution for the aircraft.  Aerolite, a Swiss-based company, was the successful bidder in a recent request for proposals to build the new interim interiors.  The interim interiors are currently being installed and will be in use by Feb. 2, 2013, giving Ornge time to develop a permanent solution.

The interim interiors are similar to the medical interiors used in other AW139 emergency helicopters around the world. Some improvements include:


Enhanced ability for paramedics to perform CPR on a patient at all times during flight.
Reduced risk of lines and tubes getting caught on equipment during loading and unloading.
Better access to the patient to place IVs.
Improved access to medical bags and supplies.
It is expected that the interim interior will be in place for about 18 to 24 months while a permanent solution is procured, designed, installed and tested.

This measure builds on recent improvements at Ornge, including the hiring of aviation executive Rob Giguere as the organization's Chief Operating Officer, an improved patient relations process, the hiring of a patient advocate, and introduction of a new conflict of interest policy and a whistleblower protection policy.  As well, the Ornge board recently appointed Dr. Andrew McCallum as the new President and CEO of Ornge.  Previous to this appointment, he was the Chief Coroner for Ontario and has held various leadership positions at Hamilton Health Sciences and at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre and is a specialist in emergency medicine. His appointment became effective Jan. 21, 2013.


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