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 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.

History[edit]

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 helicopter (EC135T2), operated by Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance.

Service Radio call-sign Reg Aircraft Photo
Cornwall Air Ambulance Helimed 01 G-CNWL
G-CIOS
2 × MD-902 (Only one operational at any single time)
G-CNWL MD902

G-CIOS MD902
The Air Ambulance Service:

Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance

Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance

Children's Air Ambulance (emergency patient

transfers only)

Helimed 54

Helimed 53

Helimed 80

Helimed 81

G-TAAS

G-RSCU

G-PICU

G-TCAA

AgustaWestland AW109SP

AgustaWestland AW109E

2x AgustaWestland AW169

G-TAAS AW109
G-RSCU AW109
Helimed 80
Devon Air Ambulance Helimed 70
Helimed 71
G-DAAN
G-DVAA
2 × EC 135
G-DAAN EC135

G-DVAA EC135
Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Helimed 10 G-DSAA AW169
G-DSAA AW169
East Anglian Air Ambulance Helimed 85
Helimed 88
G-RESU
G-HEMC
2 x H-145
G-RESU H145

G-HEMC H145
Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Helimed 07
Helimed 55
G-EHEM
G-HHEM
1 × MD-902
1 x AW169
G-HHEM AW169
Great North Air Ambulance Helimed 58
Helimed 63

Helimed 58 or 63 (operates as spare)

G-NHAA
G-NHAB
G-NHAC
3 × AS-365
G-NHAA AS-365

G-NHAB AS-365
Great Western Air Ambulance Helimed 65 G-GWAC EC-135
G-GWAA EC135. This was the charity's previous helicopter.
Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance Helimed 56 G-HIOW EC 135
G-HIOW Eurocopter EC135
Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance Helimed 60
Helimed 64
G-KSST
G-KSSC
2 x AW169
G-KAAT
Helimed 64 prior to being liveried

G-KSSA MD902 (foreground) & G-KSST AW169 (background)
Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance Helimed 29 G-LNAC AW169
G-LNAC AW169
London Air Ambulance (HEMS) Helimed 27
Spare (Helimed 28 if required for major incidents)
G-EHMS
G-LNDN
2 x MD-902 (Only one operational at any single time)
G-EHMS
G-EHMS MD902

G-LNDN MD902
Magpas Air Ambulance Helimed 66 G-HMDX MD-902
G-HMDX MD902
Midlands Air Ambulance Helimed 03
Helimed 06
Helimed 09
G-RMAA
G-HWAA
G-OMAA
2 × EC 135

1x H145

G-OMAA EC135

G-HWAA EC135

North West Air Ambulance Helimed 08
Helimed 72
Helimed 75
G-NWAA
G-NWAE
G-NWEM
3 × EC-135
G-NWAA
G-NWAA EC135

G-NWAE EC135

G-NWEM EC135
Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance Helimed 76 G-SCAA 1 × EC-135 [1]
Scottish Air Ambulance Helimed 02
Helimed 05
Gama xxx
Gama xxx
G-SASN
G-SASS
G-SASC
G-SASD
2 × EC-145 T2
2 × King Air 200C
G-SASN EC145
G-SASD 200C
G-SASC
G-SASC 200C
Thames Valley Air Ambulance Helimed 24 G-TVAL EC 135 [2]
Wales Air Ambulance Helimed 57
Helimed 59
Helimed 61
Helimed 67 (Children's)
G-WENU
G-WOBR
G-WROL
G-WASC
3 x H145

1 x EC135

G-WENU H145
G-WASC EC135
Wiltshire Air Ambulance Helimed 22 G-WLTS Bell 429 [3]
Yorkshire Air Ambulance Helimed 98
Helimed 99
G-YOAA
G-YAAC
2 × H145
G-YAAC H145

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.

In 2012, the Children's Air Ambulance was launched, providing a national service for the transport of paediatric patients to specialist centres. In 2017, G-HEMZ will be removed from service and replaced with 2 brand new AgustaWestland AW169 helicopters - registered G-TCAA and G-PICU. Both of which are currently in the final stages for service and pilots are undergoing training for the new aircraft, which are provided by Specialist Aviation Services.

Notable accidents involving air ambulances[edit]

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. 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. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 March 2009. 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]