Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance is celebrating 15 years of life-saving missions across the region today (Friday).

Since 2007, doctors and paramedics have responded to over 15,000 emergencies and have helped saved the lives of hundreds of people.

It was on 1st July 2007 that the air ambulance began operations with a 1979 MBB Bo 105 helicopter (G-TVAM). Then, in September 2010, a much more modern Eurocopter 135 helicopter (G-BZRS) was introduced to the fleet.

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Things took another step forward in January 2016 when the air ambulance began nighttime operations thanks to an upgraded Airbus H135 helicopter (G-HIOW), the same one that is used today with its distinctive green and yellow livery.

The first night landing on the Isle of Wight was at Whippingham on 1st March 2016.

The HEMS team arriving at the scene on what was their first night landing on the Isle of Wight

In the early days, not every flight had an onboard doctor and those who flew were doing so on a voluntary basis. Now, HIOWAA boasts no less than 19 doctors on its team as well as 21 specialist paramedics and 3 pilots. The equipment carried on board has also developed and it was in 2016 that fresh frozen plasma was added to the kit bag.

In 2017, the charity enhanced its offering on the mainland with the introduction of its first Emergency Response Vehicle, with an extra 2 vehicles acquired in 2019.


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Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance operates for 12 hours each and every day, between 07:00-19:00. However, thanks to a partnership with Thames Valley Air Ambulance, for 16 consecutive nights at a time the air ambulance continues flying until 02:00. Then, for the next 16 days, Thames Valley takes over the night shift between 19:00 and 02:00. This ensures that Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire has HEMS cover for 19 hours of the day, every day of the week.

It costs £15,000 a day – or £5.5million a year – to operate the air ambulance, which can be anywhere in Hampshire within 15 minutes and anywhere on the Isle of Wight within 20 minutes. It is based at Thruxton near Andover.

It is hoped that one day the service will operate 24 hours a day – a vision held by Dr Simon Hughes back in 2016.


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