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.

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-CNWL
2 × MD-902 G-KRNW
Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance Derbyshire; Leicestershire; Rutland Helimed 54 G-HEMZ A109E 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 Bristol; Gloucestershire; Avon; North Somerset; Helimed 65 G-GWAA EC-135 [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 G-LNCT MD-900 G-LNAA
London Air Ambulance (HEMS) London Helimed 27
Helimed ??
2 x 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

3 × EC 135 G-BZRS
North West Air Ambulance Cheshire; Cumbria; Lancashire; Greater Manchester; Merseyside Helimed 8
Helimed 72
Helimed 75
3 × EC-135 G-NWAA
Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance Scotland Helimed 76 G-SCAA 1 × EC-135 G-CDBS
Scottish Air Ambulance Scotland Helimed 2
Helimed 5
Gama xxx
Gama xxx
2 × EC-145
2 × 200C
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
Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance Warwickshire; Northamptonshire Helimed 53 G-RSCU A109E G-WNAA
Wiltshire Air Ambulance Wiltshire Helimed 22 G-WLTS Bell 429 [6]
Yorkshire Air Ambulance East Yorkshire; North Yorkshire; South Yorkshire; West Yorkshire Helimed 98
Helimed 99
2 × MD-902 G-CEMS

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]

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]