Air ambulance to operate 24 hours a day
Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance will now have to raise an extra £1.5 million a year as it extends its service to 24 hour cover.
The change comes after the charity took delivery last year of a new, state-of-the-art AgustaWestland 169 helicopter.
It also began to carry blood on board for the first time.
But while the team has been operating seven days a week, up until now that has been limited to between the hours of 7am-7pm.
Karen Jobling, CEO, for the charity, said: “Emergencies don’t stop at 7pm and nor will we.
“Thanks to our fantastic supporters, we are now in a position to fund the extension of our service and provide advanced clinical care to the people of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“This extended service won’t happen overnight, but the wheels are already in motion towards the provision of a 24/7 helicopter emergency service for the communities we serve by the end of the year.”
The 24 hour cover will initially be for a two year trial period.
Dr Susan Dashey, joint Clinical Lead at the charity, added: “I am delighted that we are gearing up to extend our pre-hospital emergency medical service.
“Trauma, serious illness, and cardiac arrests can happen anytime, day or night and, working with our partner East Midlands Ambulance Service, we have identified the need for an extended critical care capability in our area.
“It’s tremendous news that the charity can continue to build upon its strong foundations of excellent clinical care in this way.”
But increasing the hours the air ambulance flies is something that requires not only careful planning, but also significant investment.
From a practical standpoint, the charity says it needs additional crew, increased training, more aviation fuel and more medical supplies.
As well as a state-of-the-art helicopter, Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance also has a Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV) which can quickly transport a critical care paramedic and pre-hospital care doctor to a patient.
This vehicle carries the same life-saving equipment as the helicopter. It means it can deliver an advanced level of clinical care and equipment to patients ‘above and beyond that of a land ambulance’. The RRV will continue to be used when the helicopter is grounded due to bad weather or unplanned maintenance.
○ Since it started flying in 1994, the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance has undertaken more than 18,600 potentially life-saving missions.
The charity is non-government funded so relies on community support to raise the £4 million it will need each year to keep its helicopter flying, saving lives and improving outcomes for patients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Up until now, costs to keep the helicopter in the air have been £2.5 million a year.
It can reach any point in the two counties in less than 20 minutes and on average can transfer a patient to hospital within eight minutes.
The helicopter and critical care team transports the equivalent of an A&E department to the scene of life-threatening incidents and accidents, including road traffic collisions, cardiac arrests, agricultural, farming, horse riding and motorcycle accidents, serious falls and other incidents.
It has an operational crew based at a purpose-built site at RAF Waddington and offices in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.
○ More information on the air ambulance and how to help with fundraising can be found at www.ambucopter.org.uk