In 2004 the Argyll and Clyde health board established the Emergency Medical Retrieval Service to support its rural community hospitals. This article describes both why the service was established and its aims. This service covers a geographically extensive area, with approximately 85 000 people living in remote locations. Rural general practitioners in six community hospitals provide initial patient assessment and resuscitation. Providing emergency care and safe transfer of seriously ill and injured patients presenting to these community hospitals is a significant challenge. All parties involved felt that there was a need to provide a service to transport critically ill and injured patients from these remote locations to definitive care. The idea of the team is to bring the resuscitation room to the patient in the rural setting. With this aim and in order to implement the Intensive Care Society guidelines for the transport of critically ill patients, it was decided that consultants in Emergency Medicine and Anaesthetics with an interest in critical care would staff the service medically. This service is unique within the UK and the authors aim to report our findings from ongoing research and audit in future papers.
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