Emergency Medical Retrieval Service

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The crest of the EMRS
The EMRS team (red) with Paramedics (green) load a patient bound for the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow
Map of the area currently covered by the EMRS, showing medical facilities served

The Emergency Medical Retrieval Service (EMRS), is a medical retrieval initiative operating in the West of Scotland. It provides patients in remote and rural areas with rapid access to the skills of a consultant in emergency or intensive care medicine as well as facilitating transfers to larger, better equipped city hospitals. The team respond to calls 24 hours a day by road and also by air where services are provided in partnership with the Scottish Ambulance Service utilising both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.[1]

Formation & Operation[edit]

The EMRS was formed in 2004 after a consultation between NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, the Scottish Government Health Department and the Scottish Ambulance Service.[2] The EMRS initially operated only in the Argyll and Clyde area. The success of the service saw its operating zone expanded throughout the West coast of Scotland and the EMRS now operates from Stranraer in the South to Stornoway in the North.[3] The EMRS is currently based at Glasgow City Heliport.

In March 2010, the Scottish Government announced that due to its continuing success, the service would be further enhanced by the addition of a second team, operational from October 2010. This will increase the number of participating consultants and Doctors from eight to fifteen. The EMRS will still be based at its existing base and will cover all of remote and rural Scotland with expected annual running costs to be in the region of £2 million. [4]


In addition to responding by road the EMRS is supported by aircraft from the Scottish Ambulance Service's Air Ambulance Division, and the helicopters of the Royal Navy's Search & Rescue squadron, Rescue 177, based at HMS Gannet, Prestwick Airport, near Glasgow. The service responds to seriously ill and injured patients, often in remote locations, who require early critical care interventions and quick transfer to a better equipped, urban hospital.[5]


The EMRS functions supplementary to the regular Scottish Ambulance Service Air Ambulance service. Unlike air ambulance services in other parts of the UK, both services are funded by the Scottish Government.

The EMRS feature occasionally on the Channel 5 documentary series Highland Emergency, which charts the work of rescue services in the Scottish Highlands.[6]


Many other countries with large populations in rural or inaccessible areas have developed similar schemes. For example, the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia operates on very similar lines to the EMRS. New Zealand and Canada have also developed similar patient retrieval services in support of their rural health care practitioners.


March 2010 saw the EMRS win the Secondary Care Team of the Year category in the British Medical Journal awards. This award recognised hospital teams that demonstrate improved outcomes of medical & surgical conditions.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.emrs.scot.nhs.uk/ EMRS Official website
  2. ^ Whitelaw, AS; A S Whitelaw; R Hsu; A R Corfield; S Hearns (2006). "Establishing a rural emergency medical retrieval service". Emergency Medicine Journal (London: British Medical Journal) 23 (1): 76–8. doi:10.1136/emj.2005.025528. PMC 2564140. PMID 16373814. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 
  3. ^ "History". Glasgow: EMRS. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 
  4. ^ "News Release". Glasgow: Scotland.gov. Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  5. ^ "What we do". Glasgow: EMRS. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 
  6. ^ "Spin Doctor (EMRS Newsletter)" (PDF). Glasgow: EMRS. January 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 
  7. ^ "Previous Awards". Glasgow: BMJ. Retrieved 2010-10-27.