Flying high for 18,000th life-saving mission

The Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance has undertaken its 18,000th life-saving mission! This figure represents thousands of lives saved thanks to the actions of the Charity’s critical care crew over the past 23 years.

Last Saturday, Chief Pilot Paul Smith, Paramedics Roger Linnell and Jane Pattison and Dr Matthew Woods received the first call of the day; a road traffic collision. Unknown to the crew at the time, this was to be the Charity’s 18,000th mission. Pilot Paul Smith immediately made his way out to the Ambucopter to prepare for take-off, whilst the paramedics received more details about the patient and checked the grid reference. The crew were on scene near Boston, Lincs, in just 18 minutes. Fire and rescue and a land ambulance crew were already on scene and the patient had been cut out of the car when our crew arrived. The arrival of the Ambucopter’s critical care team meant that a Doctor was immediately on scene along with our highly-trained Paramedics.  The crew spent nearly two hours working alongside the land ambulance crew, police and fire service. As the patient had suffered a cardiac arrest the Ambucopter’s LUCAS machine was used. This life-saving piece of equipment performs manual chest compressions to patients, whilst allowing the medical crew the freedom to undertake other vital procedures on the patient.  Our Paramedic and Doctor accompanied the patient to Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital in the land ambulance, whilst the LUCAS machine continued to deliver uninterrupted chest compressions and a steady flow of oxygen to the patient.

Chief Executive, Karen Jobling, explained: “This incident shows just how vital the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance is, not just due to the speed that the aircraft can get to an incident, but also due to the additional equipment and advanced medical interventions, drugs and pain relief our crew can provide, giving the patient the very best chance of survival and recovery possible in their greatest hour of need. Many of the patients we are called to may not otherwise have survived without the advanced treatment we can provide – treatments usually only found in a hospital setting.

“In such a large geographical area, with many rurally isolated communities and some roads which are deemed to be among the most dangerous in the UK, the Ambucopter is a much-needed and vital service. Many families still have their loved ones thanks to the pre-hospital critical care they received from the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance.”

2016 was the busiest year on record with the crew being called upon for 1,009 missions. The crew responds to an average of three life-threatening calls every day, from road traffic collisions and cardiac arrests like this incident, to major industrial incidents or serious sporting injuries.

As a Charity, the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance receives no direct Government or National Lottery funding so continues to rely on public donations – just like it did in the early days in 1994 when staff operated out of a caravan and the helicopter only flew when there was enough money.

Today some things are very different though, the charity’s 28 members of staff are based at two offices, one in Lincolnshire and one in Nottinghamshire and the helicopter flies 365 days a year from a purpose-built base at RAF Waddington.

Costs have also increased from the £600,000 it cost to operate the Charity’s modest Bolkow helicopter for its very first year. Today it costs an average of £2,100 every time the helicopter is called out, meaning the Charity has to raise £2.1m a year to keep its current 902 Explorer helicopter in the sky.  As the Charity prepares to take delivery of its new AgustaWestland 169 aircraft in the very near future, this cost will undoubtedly rise.

The new aircraft will be faster, with a maximum speed of 190mph; bigger, giving the crew unobstructed 360 degree access to the patient in flight; and will have greater endurance meaning it can fly for longer before needing to refuel, positively impacting upon the critical pre-hospital care that our crew can deliver at the scene.

The delivery of this fantastic service is only possible with the support of people, organisations and businesses throughout Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire who continue to support and raise money for the Ambucopter. 

 
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