Air ambulances in the United Kingdom

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Air ambulance services in the United Kingdom are provided by a mixture of organisations, operating either helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft in order to respond to medical emergencies, and transport patients to, from, or between points of definitive care. These air ambulances fulfil both emergency medical services functions, as well as patient transport between specialist centres, or as part of a repatriation operation.

Emergency air ambulances[edit]

Emergency air ambulances are generally helicopter based, and used to respond to medical emergencies in support of local ambulance services. In England and Wales, all of these services are charitably funded, and operated under contract with a private provider.[1] The ambulance staff crewing these flights are generally seconded from the local NHS ambulance service. In Scotland, there is the only publicly funded air ambulance service, with the Scottish Ambulance Service operating two helicopters in this role, alongside a single charity operator.

Service Areas served Radio call-sign Registration Aircraft Photo
Cornwall Air Ambulance Cornwall Helimed 181 G-KNRW EC 135 G-KRNW
Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance Derbyshire; Leicestershire; Rutland Helimed 54 G-MEDS A109E G-MEDS
Devon Air Ambulance Trust Devon Helimed 183
Helimed 185
2 × EC 135 G-DAAT
G-DCCH
Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Dorset; Somerset Helimed 10 G-DORS EC 135 G-DORS
East Anglian Air Ambulance Cambridgeshire; Norfolk; Suffolk Helimed 85
Helimed 88
2 × EC 135 [1]
Essex & Hertfordshire Air Ambulance Trust Essex; & Hertfordshire; with missions to all East of England; Counties and Mutual support to London and South East England Helimed 07
Helimed 55
2 × MD-902 [2]
Great North Air Ambulance Cumbria; Tees Valley; Durham; Northumberland; North Yorkshire; Tyne and Wear Helimed 58
Helimed 63
3 × AS-365 G-GNAA
G-WAAN
Great Western Air Ambulance Bristol; Gloucestershire; Avon; North Somerset; Helimed 65 BK-105 [3]
Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance Hampshire; Isle of Wight Helimed 56 EC 135 HIOW Air Ambulance.jpg
Kent Air Ambulance Kent, East Sussex & support in London Helimed 21 MD-900 G-KAAT
Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance Lincolnshire; Nottinghamshire Helimed 29 MD-900 G-LNAA
London Air Ambulance (HEMS) London Helimed 27 MD-902 G-EHMS
Magpas (Helimedix) Cambridgeshire; Bedfordshire Helimed 66 MD-902 G-CMBS
Mercy Jets Worldwide Air Ambulance Europe Lifeguard xxx G-IV Unloading Patient in Zurich
Midlands Air Ambulance Gloucestershire; Herefordshire; Shropshire; Staffordshire; West Midlands; Worcestershire Helimed 03
Helimed 06
Helimed 09

G-HWAA
G-EMAA
3 × EC 135 G-BZRS
G-HWAA
G-WMAS
North West Air Ambulance Cheshire; Cumbria; Lancashire; Greater Manchester; Merseyside Helimed 8
Helimed 72
Helimed 75
3 × EC-135 G-NWAA
SPHU
Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance Scotland Helimed 76 1 × BK-105 G-CDBS
Scottish Air Ambulance Scotland Helimed 2
Helimed 5
Gama xxx
Gama xxx
2 × EC-135
2 × 200C
G-SASA
G-SASB
Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance East Sussex; Surrey; West Sussex & support in Kent Helimed 60 MD-900 G-KSSH
Sussex Police Air Operations Unit East Sussex; West Sussex Hotel 900 MD-902 [4]
Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance Berkshire; Buckinghamshire; Oxfordshire Helimed 24 EC 135 [5]
Welsh Air Ambulance Wales Helimed 57
Helimed 59
Helimed 61
3 × EC 135 G-BTHV
G-NAA
Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance Warwickshire; Northamptonshire Helimed 53 G-WNAA A109E G-WNAA
Wiltshire Air Ambulance
(jointly operated with Wiltshire Police)
Wiltshire Whisky Hotel 99
MD-902 [6]
Yorkshire Air Ambulance East Yorkshire; North Yorkshire; South Yorkshire; West Yorkshire Helimed 98
Helimed 99
G-CEMS
G-SASH
2 × MD-902 G-CEMS
G-SASH

Patient transport operations[edit]

Privately operated fixed wing air ambulance from the UK

There are also a number of patient transport operations in the UK, generally using fixed wing aircraft, and which are part of a system of moving patients between points of care, or as part of a repatriation to the UK. There is a helicopter based patient transfer service, focused on paediatric cases, called the Children's Air Ambulance, which first flew in 2012.[2]

The Scottish Ambulance Service operates two fixed wing aircraft in this role, and there is a similar service provided under contract in Northern Ireland, with patients flown to the mainland UK for treatment.[3]

There are also a number of private providers offering transport by fixed wing aircraft.

Notable accidents involving air ambulances[edit]

On 26 July 1998, the three man crew of the Kent Air Ambulance died when the aircraft collided with power lines and crashed in a field in Burham, near Rochester Airport.[4][5] Initial investigation established no definitive cause for the crash, due to the fireball produced on impact. Controversy ensued when the pilot's employers, Police Aviation Services, denied liability. On 19 February 2004, following a civil case brought by the pilot's widow to the High Court in Manchester, it ruled that the crash was caused by mechanical failure, not as suggested flying low for fun, and ordered compensation to be paid.[6]

On 14 June 2000, four passengers and one pilot were killed when a Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain, chartered for a medical transfer from the Isle of Man, crashed on approach to Liverpool Airport.[7]

On 15 March 2005, a Britten-Norman Islander aircraft operated by Loganair crashed into the sea while descending toward Campbeltown Airport in western Scotland. The aircraft was operating an air ambulance flight on behalf of the Scottish Ambulance Service. The pilot and paramedic both died in the crash.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Amazing Facts about your Air Ambulance". Association of Air Ambulances. Retrieved 26 July 2009. 
  2. ^ "The Children's Air Ambulance". Express and Echo. 2012-12-18. 
  3. ^ "New air ambulance for NI after flight ordeal". BBC news. 
  4. ^ Helicopter crash kills three BBC News, 27 July 1998
  5. ^ "AAIB Bulletin No: 2/2000" (PDF). Air Accidents Investigation Branch. Retrieved 5 July 2009. 
  6. ^ "Air ambulance crash pilot cleared". BBC News. 19 February 2004. 
  7. ^ "Piper PA-31-350, G-BMBC". AAIB. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  8. ^ "Air crew search called off". BBC News. 15 March 2005. 

External links[edit]