Ultrasound Training - Great Western Air Ambulance Charity
SPCC Jack loading new kit bags into the heli
Crew believe new kit bags will help with patient care
June 16, 2023
Specialist Paramedics return to Ukraine to train Military and Police
June 27, 2023

Your support diagnoses critical issues, fast

In order to quickly treat patients, our specialist crew carry diagnostic equipment to the scene of an incident, equipment that is usually found in the hospital. Of course, it’s no use having equipment without knowing how to use it, so our crew is trained in a similar way to hospital clinicians.

One of the newer pieces of kit we carry is the Butterfly IQ ultrasound machine. This machine uses high frequency sound waves to create an image of the patients internal organs. It enables us to detect problems that might otherwise need invasive procedures to detect. “Used correctly it’s a really vital bit of kit, and a really quick bit of kit” – SPCC Dan Davis


The GWAAC Ultrasound course

GWAAC’s ultrasound course is a bespoke one-day course designed to teach the core areas of ultrasound use. It is offered to all Specialist Paramedics in Critical Care (SPCCs) and any Critical Care Doctors who haven’t already been trained elsewhere. For those who have not done any ultrasound training, they are first offered a two-day course with Safeguard Medical, followed by GWAAC's bespoke course. Any of our clinical team can do the GWAAC course as it serves as a good refresher too.

The course is taught in small groups by Advanced Clinical Practitioner in Critical Care, Vicki Brown, and Critical Care Doctor, Dr Rich Jeavons ( GWAAC’s Ultrasound Lead) External experts in the field of ultrasound are also invited to teach on the course.

Trainees learn the theory and then get to practice with the kit on mannikins and on each other. The focus is on cardiac, lung and vascular access (our three main reasons for use) but will often include other ultrasound uses too.

Completion of the ultrasound course goes in our crew’s portfolios which record evidence of courses attended, on-the-job training, and in-hospital educational shifts. All of which, requires clinical signoff either at GWAAC or by SWASfT.


Why use Ultrasound?

“It is an extra tool to help guide the treatment of patients and potentially save lives.”

Vicki Brown, Advanced Clinical Practitioner in Critical Care

SPCC Dan goes on to explain that “In the right hands an ultrasound can be a really useful piece of equipment. For example, for someone who has had a cardiac arrest following a car accident. Outside a hospital, the only way to find out if they’ve got an internal bleed is by an invasive surgical procedure known as a thoracotomy. With an ultrasound device, we can find out if there’s an injury there and if further intervention is necessary.“


Although the ultrasound machine is a useful piece of equipment, it takes time to learn how to use it and proper training is essential. The cost of the ultrasound training is around £400. It sounds expensive but it has the potential to save lives.

It is vital that our crew constantly learn, develop and practice their skills to provide the best care possible for patients. But did you know that our crew can only train and develop with funding and support from local communities?