The new Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance responded to 64 of the most serious life-threatening emergency calls during its first month in service.
The new AgustaWestland 169 helicopter is already exceeding expectations – by reducing the time it takes to reach patients, giving the medical crew more space to work on patients than ever before, and by allowing pilots to fly further without refuelling as often.
After launching the state-of-the-art helicopter on June 13, it was ready to become operational two days later following essential crew training. Within just three minutes on being on-line, the first call came in.
Time was a vital factor in this first mission, and the crew was able to transport a critically-ill man suffering from a cardiac arrest from Spalding to the Lincoln Heart Centre in just 10 minutes.
Over the last month, the helicopter was dispatched to 64 missions across Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.
Ten (16%) of these involved children or teenagers, including a teenager who suffered serious head and chest injuries in a karting accident, and a young boy who suffered a back injury at school.
The largest percentage of missions undertaken during the first month was to road traffic collisions (42%), including a driver who was trapped in his car. The crew was able to provide him with advanced pain relief, enabling them to safely release him before fitting a pelvic splint for the onward journey to hospital.
Another road traffic collision involved a motorcyclist who suffered multiple injuries including several broken bones and a severe head injury, who required extensive treatment at the roadside to stabilise his condition before being airlifted to hospital.
Paramedic Roger Linnell said: “Our new helicopter gives us new options with regards to patient care that we have never had before.
“One of the major benefits is 360-degree access to the patient meaning that we can perform life-saving procedures such as a thoracostomy - used to inflate a collapsed lung or drain fluid from a lung, while in flight. This is something that we would never have been able to do before.
“As we look towards the winter months we also have the added benefit of having heat and light inside the helicopter whilst on the ground, meaning that we can treat patients in a warm and dry environment while we stabilise them ready for transportation to hospital. All of this will help to give our patients the very best chance of survival possible from some of the most serious and life-threatening injuries and illnesses.”
Pilot Tim Taylor added: “Our new helicopter is undoubtedly much faster; and flying at speeds of up to 190mph we are already reducing our flying times to the scene. I don’t think the crew could quite believe it on our second ever mission when we went from our base at RAF Waddington to Mablethorpe in just 12 minutes! Granted, we had a tail wind, but this shaved five minutes of our previous flight time.”
Out of the 64 missions, the helicopter was dispatched to 27 serious road traffic collisions, 12 medical incidents including cardiac arrests and collapses, 5 motorsport accidents, 4 falls, 3 horse riding accidents, 2 industrial incidents, 2 swimming accidents, a fishing accident, a rugby accident and a football accident.
In and around these operational missions, our crew also managed to fit in 6 training flights.
CEO Karen Jobling said: “Our new helicopter is already showing just why it is regarded as one of the best aircraft in today’s Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) arena. Whilst we may not yet have put all of its enhanced benefits to the test, it is certainly out-performing our previous helicopter in terms of the speed it can get to patient as well as the clinical space our crew has to work with.
“This is a huge advancement for our charity and over the coming months I am confident that we will continue to see the increased benefits of the new aircraft, which in turn will lead to better outcomes for our patients who are at the very centre of everything we do.
“As our Charity receives no direct Government or National Lottery funding, it really is thanks to the people of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire who continue to support us that we are able to keep the helicopter in the skies, saving lives 365 days of the year. “We need to raise £2.5 million every year - together, we can reach this target and keep saving lives in our communities. Thank you to everyone who supports us.”