Lombardy's HEMS: a model

Lombardy's HEMS: a model

We talked to AREU Chairman, Alberto Zoli, to understand which directions the future of the HEMS will take in Italy's most populated region

Almost one million emergency interventions per year for about 10 million citizens served. A fleet made of hundreds of rescue vehicles. One the most advanced and modern of HEMS helicopters fleet of the world.  Thousands among volunteers and employees of the Associations. We just listed some of Lombardy healthcare emergency system’s figures,  which is a pioneer in the development of some of the most recent HEMS-oriented innovations.

In addition to being the promoter of 24/7 HEMS operations, Lombardy has been the cradle of initiatives such as the 112 Emergency Number. The Regional Emergency-Urgency Agency (AREU) has few rivals in Europe in terms of innovation and land management: this will be one of the key points of the REMOTE International HEMS Meeting 2018 congress, not coincidentally organized in Lombardy.

In view of the appointment of Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 December in Vergiate, we have reached the AREU's chairman, Alberto Zoli, to understand which directions he will be able to take the Helicopter of the future.

Lombardy’s HEMS can be defined as a virtuous model in Europe. What are the strengths of the service?

I would definitely say that it is possible to operate on a 24/7 basis with a capillary and flexible emergency network. But above all, I think that HEMS integration with road ambulances is one of the most important asset we manage. The Lombardy Emergency Relief System has adapted to European regulations and has started a service with no discontinuity between day and night operations. In this way, HEMS no longer assumes any connotation of mere medical transport: in reality it is an air ambulance service in the deepest sense of the term.

What developments do you expect from the synergy between the helicopter industry and the healthcare community?

Our hope is that the helicopter industry will hear the needs of those operating in the healthcare environment. This effort requires an evolution of the models currently available for HEMS services with the aim of increasing aircraft capacity, ergonomics and safety for health crews.

…As well as an evolution of on-board HEMS kits.                                                              

If anything, the main theme is  the refinement of the very definition of HEMS helicopter, what is needed on board, what are the tasks and roles of the crews. The more we define these aspects, the closer we’ll reach the goal of an appropriate and efficient helicopter emergency medical service for patients.

REMOTE International HEMS Meeting 2018 will be hosted in Vergiate, the "home" of one of the most important OEMs. Will this be the occasion to discuss the topic?

It is important that one of the world's leading manufacturers has chosen to host this event and it is important that synergies are defined here that will allow producers to incorporate precise guidelines on the evolution of helicopters for an increasingly adequate helicopter rescue service. Looking beyond our borders, albeit in much more limited examples of the population served and of the extension of the territory, we realize that the meeting between the various communities that make up the Rescue has produced remarkable results on the profile of the efficiency of the missions HEMS in different regions of Europe.

What do you expect from SIAARTI’s HEMS Guidelines?

Our interest in this initiative is high and is in line with the AREU's modus operandi. At a regional level, at least as far as our reference area is concerned, we can say that we have achieved a level of homogeneous operational efficiency. Lombardy, Piedmont, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Emilia Romagna, Trento and Bolzano are already critical mass in this sense: we have similar operational levels, we move in synergy and we cover the territory with capillarity and high levels of cooperation. It is important that the whole country has a HEMS service that ensures the same values ??in terms of safety for staff, and high levels of quality and professionalism for patients.