Air Rescue Operations: London Air Ambulance
You've probably seen helicopters pulling a critically injured person off of a mountain, often under vicious weather conditions, but did you know there's also a helicopter responding to accidents in the capital? When the clock is ticking down faster than a standard ambulance can answer, there's only one group of people who stand a chance of saving them in time.
Air Charter Service asked some of the tireless heroes of the UK's London Air Ambulance to tell us a little more about the organisation and its daring, rewarding rescues.
Captain Neil Jeffers is the Chief Pilot at London Air Ambulance and helps deliver an advanced trauma team safely to the side of critically injured patients that live, work and commute within London every day. London currently only has one emergency medical helicopter serving the whole of the city. This is why the organisation is currently fundraising for a second emergency medical helicopter for the city as part of the 'Your London, Your Helicopter' campaign.
The Association of Air Ambulances represents 14 of the 19 total related services across the UK while the Air Ambulance Service represents several others. Limited government oversight and funding exists for many of these individual operations, with many being dependant on the support of the community which they service.
"Through the acquisition of a second helicopter, and by extending its daylight flying hours in the summer months, it means that the charity will be able to reach an estimated 400 more patients per year by aircraft. By having a helicopter available at all times, it will also give London greater resilience during major incidents," she says. "He has safely landed on bridges, multi-storey car parks, box junctions and in busy, high profile locations such as Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus."
Average flight time to a scene is around six minutes and the helicopter can be airborne within four minutes. It is vital to think quickly and navigate accurately, as every second can be critical for London's Air Ambulance when getting to its patients.
Due to the lack of government oversight and standardization across these individual operations, some often balance precariously on a financial edge while others receive a great deal more government support. This has caused some tension in recent years, as all of these rescue teams work exhausting hours and provide a specialised service which too few are qualified to take up.
Air Ambulance Service tells us that, as well as extra work outside the charity, the everyday heroes who work aboard the air ambulance sometimes join in to keep the helicopters flying themselves by fundraising. One of the critical care paramedics, Adam Nash, is taking on a gruelling 24 hour cycle to raise money for the charity. Adam, who already works as a lecturer in paramedic science at The University of Northampton in his spare time, is planning on raising £10,000 by cycling 338 miles from Edinburgh to Northampton.
"He and two student paramedics, who work with East Midlands Ambulance Service, will embark on their quest this August. Their fundraising project can be tracked at www.endurecycling.co.uk."
Whether you knew of the London Air Ambulance team and their valiant efforts to maintain a necessary service for what is unquestionably the biggest city in England, your life could be in their hands one day. As cities continue to grow and urbanisation makes areas more densely populated than they have ever been before, air ambulances should become more of a feature in every city. Hopefully, by that stage, these teams will have grown in tandem and the funding which they currently raise themselves will be more carefully subsidised.
Remember if you’re ever in trouble in a remote area that Air Charter Service can assist in arranging immediate aid through nearby rescue teams.