Keith McCallum

Managing Director, Ambu Ltd.

Q: Ambu has an interesting history. Can you tell us a bit about it?

A: In 1937, an engineer named Dr Holger Hesse founded the company Testa-Laboratorium in Denmark. Two years earlier, Dr Hesse had fled from Germany due to the Nazi persecution of Jewish people. Unable to find work, Testa Laboratorium had been founded on Dr Hesse’s development of unique blood testing products. In 1953, a mutual friend introduced Dr Hesse to Henning Ruben, an anaesthetist who had an undying enthusiasm for new ideas and new products. Dr Hesse and Dr Ruben became close friends and together in 1953 developed the world’s first ambulant suction pump. From the Ambu suction pump came the idea to develop a manual resuscitation device made from a self-inflating bag (the original model was constructed in 1956 using bicycle spokes!). This manual resuscitator or “Ambu Bag” was a revolution in immediate life care in terms of both cleanliness and effectiveness. Soon, the manual resuscitator became the worldwide tool of choice for emergency oxygen delivery and resuscitation. To aid in the training of using a manual resuscitator, Testa- Laboratorium began manufacturing training manikins. By the 1960’s, the training manikins had evolved to allow for the training of cardiac massage as well as airway management. The success of the Ambu product range and the high recognition of the Ambu brand name meant that in 1986 Testa Laboratorium changed its name to Ambu International. Today, the company is simply known as Ambu, with over 1600 employees worldwide. In 2005 Ambu launched their first anaesthesia-dedicated product the Ambu AuraOnce.

Q: How is Ambu set up to best serve the interests of your customers in the UK?

A: Ambu Ltd. has a full complement of highly trained, personable Territory Managers dedicated to different regions of the country. They ensure that each customer gets a first class service and will work closely with customers to ensure that their objectives are being achieved. All Ambu Territory Managers have completed a Theatre Access Course so customers are assured of their absolute professionalism in every aspect. Ambu also has an extremely experienced customer services team. They are committed to fulfilling all customer requirements, whatever they might be. Ambu’s customer services employees are also allocated specific regions of the country. In this way they are able to build up a relationship with customers and offer them a friendly and efficient service. Our offices and warehouse are based in St. Ives, Cambridgeshire. The warehouse holds 4 weeks stock against current demand. A further 8 weeks stock is held in Europe and is available within 24- 48 hours so customers never have to worry about consistent and continuous supply.

Q: What is your most popular product and why do you think that is?

A: The Ambu AuraFlex is our most popular product at the moment. From the day it was first launched we have seen terrific demand for it and customer feedback has been exceptional. The Ambu AuraFlex will literally bend over backwards for you. It has a long, kink-free, wire-reinforced airway tube that eliminates the risk of airway tube occlusion and the integrated pilot tube makes handling and insertion easy whilst reducing the risk of cutting the pilot tube during surgery. The high flexibility of the reinforced airway tube also enables positioning away from the surgical field without loss of seal. Also, all our single use laryngeal masks now have an EasyGlide surface as well, which guarantees smooth insertion and removal.

Q: Do you involve anaesthetists in the development of new products?

A: We work in very close co-operation with the medical community when developing all Ambu products. It makes complete sense to closely involve the end user in the R&D process in order to ensure we end up with products that exceed customer needs.

Q: Do you have any new (anaesthesia related) ideas on the drawing board?

A: Yes we do and they are very exciting. Watch this space!

Q: What changes do you see occurring in the anaesthetics and healthcare industry over the next few years?

A: The overall theme of providing increased value to all areas of the NHS will continue. Innovation will have a key role in this and adaptation to change will be the main differentiating factor between success and failure. Within anaesthetics I also feel that developments within the area of difficult airways (i.e. more of them) will become increasingly important.

Q: What is your focus and what do you offer the anaesthetics industry?

A: Our focus in all our categories is the customer and working with them to find innovative solutions to everyday challenges. We understand that when it comes to sourcing medical devices customers need a product that offers real cost savings without compromising on quality or reliability. We bear these factors in mind when designing our products (always in close cooperation with the medical community) so that we can offer customers highly functional products that meet and often exceed patient safety regulations, are cost competitive and offer real value for money. We are genuinely passionate about all our products and the people they are intended to be used on and used by.

Q: What is Ambu’s take on Corporate Social Responsibility?

A: Ambu takes Corporate Responsibility extremely seriously, and as such, endeavors to exceed stakeholder expectations in the areas of community investment, human rights, environmental practices and ethical conduct. As a company we have won numerous awards for this, of which we are very proud.

Q: Finally, what does the future hold for Ambu?

A: Ambu is a Company focused on both its customers and disposable medical devices. We will continue to deliver innovative and high quality solutions, building on our existing successes and maximizing market opportunities for the benefit of our customers.

Ambu, the company that brought you the very first manual resuscitator in 1956, is a Danish company that develops, produces and markets diagnostic and life-supporting equipment and solutions to hospitals and rescue services across the world. Their five business areas are: Respiratory Care, Cardiology, Neurology, Training and Immobilization.

Keith McCallum is the Managing Director of Ambu Ltd and has been with the company for 15 years.