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The monthly news publication for aviation professionals.
2022 proves busiest yet for UK air ambulance charities
Four of the UK's air ambulance charities have reported record-breaking years, their Airbus H135, Bell 429 and Agusta Westland 109SP helicopters were at their busiest since before the COVID pandemic.
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance's H135 was airborne for 547 hours throughout the year.
Read this story in our February 2023 printed issue.

Life-saving UK charity Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance responded to 1,814 missions throughout the last 12 months, making it the busiest year for the aeromedical charity since before the Covid-19 pandemic. Its Airbus H135 was airborne for 547 hours throughout the year, and its three emergency response vehicles covered more than 54,000 miles.

The doctors, paramedics, pilots and dispatch assistants that make up the charity's critical care teams responded to 244 more incidents than in 2021. Of those 1,814 call-outs, 124 were to the Isle of Wight.

To meet the growing demand for its service, the charity recruited additional specialist doctors, introduced a secondary daytime crew to attend a wider range of incidents and extended its flying hours to 19 hours a day, seven days a week.

Chief executive Richard Corbett says: “Each of those 1,814 calls for our help meant someone was in desperate need of our care. Whether they require advanced medication or sedation, a blood transfusion or even a surgical procedure, our specialist crews can do all of this before the patient reaches hospital. Thanks to the advancement of our service, we anticipate being even busier in 2023.

“It is not lost on me that, despite the ongoing financial uncertainty for so many in our region and beyond, our supporters keep rallying behind us and our patients. And I cannot thank them enough.”

For the first time in its history, Thames Valley Air Ambulance crews attended more than 3,000 call outs in a single year; 1,161 incidents in Berkshire, 1,086 in Buckinghamshire, 818 in Oxfordshire and 93 in the surrounding area. The busiest month was December with crews called to attend 305 emergencies, followed by 276 in November and 275 in June.

Chief operating officer Adam Panter says: “2022 was incredibly busy for our crews for a number of reasons, including the impact of our communities returning to full and active lives. In addition to this, we are working hard to identify the cases that would benefit most from our crews' expertise earlier and therefore dispatching our critical care teams to more of them.

“Answering 3,158 callouts is testament to their professionalism and the whole team at Thames Valley Air Ambulance supporting their lifesaving efforts. But this simply couldn't happen without the community we serve; without their generous donations of funds and volunteering time, we wouldn't be able to make the difference we do.”

The two sister services making up The Air Ambulance Service, the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (WNAA) along with the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance (DLRAA), have been working tirelessly around the clock over 2022. Despite the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and increased fuel prices, it continued to provide frontline critical care across its five counties and further afield.

The dedicated crews were tasked to 3,119 potentially lifesaving missions via its two AgustaWestland 109SP helicopters and critical care cars, with DLRAA responding to 1,708 of the callouts and WNAA responding to 1,411.

The highest number of callouts were to Leicestershire and Rutland with 732, Derbyshire had 558 callouts, Northamptonshire 405 and Warwickshire had 386. A further 397 incidents were responded to across the West Midlands, 472 across Nottinghamshire, 81 across Lincolnshire and many more split across other neighbouring counties.

“Despite the economic difficulties everyone has faced over the last year, the generous support from our local communities has meant our dedicated crews, who respond to emergencies on average 10 times a day, could continue attending lifesaving missions across our counties and further afield,” says head of operations Philip Bridle. “Our 24/7 frontline services were enhanced in 2022 as we made clinical developments through bringing blood products on board and training our critical care paramedics in the use of ultrasound equipment."

2023 is an exciting time for the charity which celebrates DLRAA's 15th anniversary and WNAA's 20th anniversary.

“We have plans to further develop in 2023 by bringing new critical care cars online as well as introducing new medical equipment such as ventilators and cardiac monitors, as we head towards our 50,000 mission milestone this year,” Bridle adds.

The Wiltshire Air Ambulance undertook 1,061 missions across Wiltshire, Bath and surrounding areas. It used its Bell 429 helicopter for 670 (63 per cent) of the missions, with the remaining 391 incidents attended by critical care cars.

Director of income generation and communications Barbara Gray says: “We have a very dedicated aircrew consisting of pilots, critical care paramedics and doctors, who respond to emergencies on average three times a day, 365 days a year.

“We know it is a really difficult time for the country right now, with fuel and energy bills rising, along with inflation, contributing to this current cost of living crisis. However, we remain ever grateful to our amazing donors and local businesses who continue to support us and help raise the four million pounds it costs each year to keep our air ambulance flying and saving lives.”

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