Air ambulances in the United Kingdom

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Air ambulance services in the United Kingdom are provided by a mixture of organisations, operating either helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft 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.


The first air ambulance services in the UK commenced in Scotland in November 1933 with a flight from Wideford Airport, Kirkwall Orkney and in February 1939 the first night time ambulance flight was undertaken from Wideford to the island of Sanday, using car headlights to help take off and landing. The aircraft used was a General Aircraft Monospar G-ACEW operated by Highland Airways.

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 and two fixed wing aircraft in this role, alongside a single charity operator helicopter (EC135T2).

Service Areas served Radio call-sign Registration Aircraft Photo
Cornwall Air Ambulance Cornwall Helimed 01 G-CNWL
2 × MD-902 G-KRNW
Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance Derbyshire; Leicestershire; Rutland Helimed 54 G-TAAS A109SP G-MEDS
Devon Air Ambulance Trust Devon Helimed 183
Helimed 185
2 × EC 135 G-DAAT
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
G-HEMN G-HEMC 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
Great Western Air Ambulance Charity Bristol; Gloucestershire; Avon; North Somerset; Helimed 65 G-GWAA EC-135 [3]
Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance Hampshire; Isle of Wight Helimed 56 G-HIOW EC 135 HIOWAA Mission.jpg
Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance Kent; East Sussex; West Sussex; Surrey and support in London Helimed 21
Helimed 60
2 x MD-900 G-KAAT
Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance Lincolnshire; Nottinghamshire Helimed 29 G-LNCT MD-902 G-LNAA
London Air Ambulance (HEMS) London Helimed 27

Helimed 28



2 x MD-902 G-EHMS
Magpas Air Ambulance Based in Cambridgeshire, covering the East of England and beyond Helimed 66 G-HMDX MD-902 G-CMBS
Midlands Air Ambulance Gloucestershire; Herefordshire; Shropshire; Staffordshire; West Midlands; Worcestershire Helimed 03
Helimed 06
Helimed 09

3 × EC 135 G-BZRS
North West Air Ambulance Cheshire; Cumbria; Lancashire; Greater Manchester; Merseyside Helimed 08
Helimed 72
Helimed 75
3 × EC-135 G-NWAA
Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance Scotland Helimed 76 G-SCAA 1 × EC-135 [4]
Scottish Air Ambulance Scotland Helimed 2
Helimed 5
Gama xxx
Gama xxx
2 × EC-145 T2
2 × 200C
Sussex Police Air Operations Unit East Sussex; West Sussex Hotel 900 MD-902 [5]
Thames Valley Air Ambulance Berkshire; Buckinghamshire; Oxfordshire Helimed 24 EC 135 [6]
Wales Air Ambulance Wales Helimed 57
Helimed 59
Helimed 61
Helimed 67
3 × EC 145
1 × EC 135
Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance Warwickshire; Northamptonshire Helimed 53 G-RSCU A109E G-WNAA
Wiltshire Air Ambulance Wiltshire Helimed 22 G-WLTS Bell 429 [7]
Yorkshire Air Ambulance East Yorkshire; North Yorkshire; South Yorkshire; West Yorkshire Helimed 98
Helimed 99
2 × EC-145 T2 G-YAAC

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] In 2015 the neonatal, paediatric and adult emergency care and retrieval operations were brought together with the Scottish Ambulance Service and utilise the aircraft and road ambulances for this purpose. They are co-located at the Scottish Ambulance Air Base at Glasgow International Airport.

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

Notable accidents involving air ambulances[edit]

See also[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. 18 December 2012. 
  3. ^ "New air ambulance for NI after flight ordeal". BBC news. 
  4. ^ Air Accidents Investigation Branch. "BN2A-26 Islander, G-BEDZ, 19 May 1996". GOV.UK. Department for Transport, Air Accidents Investigation Branch. Retrieved 31 December 2015. 
  5. ^ Helicopter crash kills three BBC News, 27 July 1998
  6. ^ "AAIB Bulletin No: 2/2000" (PDF). Air Accidents Investigation Branch. Retrieved 5 July 2009. 
  7. ^ "Air ambulance crash pilot cleared". BBC News. 19 February 2004. 
  8. ^ "Piper PA-31-350, G-BMBC" (PDF). AAIB. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  9. ^ "Air crew search called off". BBC News. 15 March 2005. 

External links[edit]