Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA) has today (Tuesday) announced its commitment to full night flying capability by extending its relationship with Bond Air Services Ltd and upgrading to a specially equipped new helicopter.
The announcement follows a thorough procurement process and is a major step for HIOWAA as a leader in helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS), continuing to deliver the highest standard of patient care to the people of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Since the start of flying operations just seven years ago, HIOWAA has been steadily expanding its service to the community, and in May this year undertook its 5,000th mission. During this time, the charity has achieved several landmark milestones, including the carrying of blood on board all flights, longer operating hours, and the introduction of regular doctor-led crewing. In 2013, HIOWAA stated the ambition to have a doctor on board for every mission in 2015. The charity is working to meet this target and is currently operating doctor-led crews for most missions.
HIOWAA will begin operating their enhanced model EC135T3 with effect from the second half of 2015, resulting in a service that will offer the local community progressively longer periods of HEMS cover, during the hours of daylight and darkness, 365 days of the year.
Tim Shattock, Managing Director of Bond Air Services said:
“Bond Air Services is proud to continue its relationship with HIOWAA and TVCAA. This new contract means we will work together to continue to provide this vital service to communities across the area for years to come. Introducing night operations will add an extra dimension of capability to our world-class air ambulance support, helping us save lives and provide emergency medical support where and when it is needed most.”
As HIOWAA’s service continues to evolve, it is demonstrating a real impact on patient outcomes. Figures from University Hospital, Southampton, HIOWAA’s designated Major Trauma Centre, show that a significant number of trauma patients are being transported by the air ambulance – 45 in the past three months alone. The helicopter responds to patients injured by road traffic incidents, significant falls and serious medical conditions.
David Sutton, HEMS Clinical Governance Lead, commented:
“The air ambulance brings the hospital directly to our patients, whether this be on a roadside, in a field or in a street, transporting the most severely injured patients direct to the nearest specialist Major Trauma Centre for their needs. Being able to fly after the hours of darkness will make a major difference to patient outcome, particularly during the winter, when we are able to reach those early evening rush hour incidents that we would previously not have been able to reach”.
Significantly, this announcement is made at the start of National Air Ambulance Week, a week in which local Air Ambulance charities get together to promote their work undertaken on a local and national level throughout the year.
John Perry, Chief Executive, HIOWAA, commented:
“As a charity, we are committed to a path of continuous development and we have been progressively increasing our hours of coverage for some time now. It is thanks to the generosity and commitment of the people of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight that we are able to take this important step forward and commit to night time flying. As a young charity, this is considerable achievement, keeping us at the forefront of Helicopter Emergency Services (HEMS) care, and allowing us to continuously improve our service to our community”.
HIOWAA receives no government, statutory or National Lottery funding for operational purposes, relying entirely on the generosity of the people and businesses of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to keep the Air Ambulance flying and saving lives.