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Saving Lives By Saving Time With Midlands Air Ambulance Charity

Posted 8 years 173 days ago ago by Admin


With over 24 years of experience, Midlands Air Ambulance Charity has achieved a strong reputation for delivering the very best pre-hospital emergency care to patients across the Midlands region of the United Kingdom (UK). From just one Bolkow 105 helicopter flying out of a temporary airbase in Shropshire, to three state-of-the-art EC135 helicopters serving the largest air ambulance region in England with a population of in excess of 6 million people, Midlands Air Ambulance Charity certainly has come a long way since 1991.

During this time, the service has proudly undertaken over 42,000 air ambulance missions, a third more than any other UK-based air ambulance, making it one of the busiest air ambulance operators in the UK. Covering Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, the West Midlands, and Worcestershire, Midlands Air Ambulance’s medical aircrew attend an average of six lifesaving missions each day, equating to over 2,000 flights each year.

The charity’s three airbases are strategically located in the west, north, and south of the Midlands region: at RAF Cosford in Shropshire, Tatenhill airfield in Staffordshire, and Strensham in Worcestershire respectively. This configuration enables Midlands Air Ambulance’s EC135 helicopters to reach 90 percent of the Midlands region within eight minutes flying time, supporting the golden hour principle, whereby if a patient reaches a hospital within an hour of their incident, their chances of survival are greatly increased. In addition to undertaking helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) missions, the service’s helicopters are also used to carry out critical care transfers to the most appropriate trauma hospital for patients’ specific needs.

Helicopter Capability
Due to their robust capability, flying speed (with a top speed of 155 kts or 178 mph), and versatile interior layout, the EC135 aircraft is now the most popular model of helicopter used by air ambulances across the UK. Midlands Air Ambulance Charity is proud to have been one of the very first air ambulance operators to use this model, which is a great asset in delivering the very best possible patient care across the region. In fact, thanks to incredibly generous public donations, the charity’s EC135T2e aircraft based at RAF Cosford (which is registered G-OMAA and cost £4.5 million / $6.9 million) is wholly owned by the charity, while the two further EC135 aircraft are leased from the charity’s aviation partner, Bond Air Services.

Each helicopter has the capacity to carry a crew comprising the pilot and two flight critical care paramedics, or a pilot, flight critical care paramedic, and flight doctor. As part of a partnership agreement, members of the aircrew are seconded to Midlands Air Ambulance Charity by the service’s health partner, West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.

A great deal of research and analysis into the design and fit-out of the medical equipment within each helicopter was undertaken by Midlands Air Ambulance and Bond Air Services. As there is limited space available in each air ambulance, it is vital that the equipment and medicines are situated in the best possible position for regulation compliance and ease of access, both at the scene of the incident and in the air en route to the most appropriate trauma hospital.

The charity’s air operations manager and clinical team had a number of opportunities to benchmark and review the fit-out throughout the design-build process of each helicopter. Midlands Air Ambulance representatives visited the design team at Airbus in the UK and Germany to evaluate and make alterations where necessary.

The helicopter interior equipment configuration has been standardized across Midlands Air Ambulance’s fleet, which is ideal for multi-aircraft responses and to ensure aircrew efficiency when working at alternative airbases. To enable the service to offer the very best care while in transit, most pieces of equipment in the helicopters can be moved if required, including the seating and stretchers. This is important for treatment in the air and also after a mission when each air ambulance requires extensive cleaning.

Clinical Excellence
Over 65 percent of Midlands Air Ambulance’s aircrew are now trained to the standard of critical care paramedic (CCP), which means they can administer advanced techniques and medicines at the incident scene. Eventually, the charity aims to achieve 100 percent critical care standards for all paramedics, and the current CCPs are undergoing refresher courses at the world-renowned Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, strengthening the service’s clinical expertise in pre-hospital care.

In addition to the helicopter aircrew, Midlands Air Ambulance works closely with the highly skilled and dedicated Airdesk team situated at West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. The team consists of a Midlands Air Ambulance CCP and ambulance staff. They assign appropriate emergency calls to the three helicopters, ensuring all patients who require treatment within the golden hour are swiftly taken to the most appropriate trauma hospital for their needs.

The Airdesk tasking structure and protocols enable Midlands Air Ambulance to continue to improve efficiency and to effectively task missions to the three aircraft. As a result, the service has reduced the number of aborted missions (where a HEMS aircrew were airborne but subsequently not required) by over 30 percent and reduced flying costs by £180,000 ($278,000) in comparison to the previous financial year.

On a Mission
Among the highest proportion of missions during the last 12 months, Midlands Air Ambulance’s aircrew attended a variety of differing incidents, including road traffic collisions, which accounted for 33 percent, while medical emergencies (including heart attacks and strokes) equated to 24 percent of missions, and falls made up 15 percent. The remaining 28 percent consisted of a number of differing trauma-related incidents, including horse riding accidents, sporting injuries, industrial and farm accidents, and drownings.

Moving Forward
As part of its continuing commitment to patient care, Midlands Air Ambulance flies 14 hours a day from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. year-round, flying between lit helipads during the hours of darkness.

Going forward, and with the support of the EC135, the service aims to introduce night operations to reach those who need urgent medical treatment when it’s dark. As part of the research into undertaking night HEMS, the charity is currently undertaking a feasibility study with West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, which includes a review of potential patient demand for an air ambulance in the Midlands region after dark.

This is part of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity’s long-term strategy to direct further investment and resource into areas where the service can make the greatest difference to patient outcomes and their ongoing recovery. Use of the EC135 helicopter by the charity is supporting this forward-thinking strategy, ultimately enabling Midlands Air Ambulance to do what it does best—saving lives by saving time. 
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