Saving Lives by Saving Time – for 25 years
From just one helicopter flying out of a temporary airbase to three helicopters serving a population of over 6 million people, Midlands Air Ambulance Charity certainly has come a long way in since 1991.
We can proudly say that our dedicated flight paramedics and doctors have responded to over 49,000 incidents, which is a third more than any other air ambulance service in the UK.
But none of this would have been possible without our fantastic fundraisers and volunteers, so where did it all begin?
Over two decades ago on the 21st May 1991 a handful of people formally launched a new air ambulance service called ‘Air 5’ at Hagley Hall in Worcestershire. The new air ambulance service was one of the first of its kind in the UK and would be operational five days a week.
Six days after its launch ‘Air 5’ responded to its first flying mission. A woman had suffered a fall on the mountainside in Hay on Wye in Powys and needed emergency pre-hospital medical care. Quick into action the newly established flight crew rushed to the scene, stabilising the patient before airlifting her to Herefordshire Hospital in just six minutes. The Charity’s first successful mission had just been completed.
In October of the same year ‘Air 5’ moved its airbase to RAF Cosford in Shropshire, where our air operations hub still remains today. Eventually ‘Air 5’ was renamed ‘County Air Ambulance’ in recognition of the eleven counties of England and Wales then served by the charity.
With operations getting busier and busier and with increased fundraising, from May 1995 the charity was able to extend its flying hours to ten hours a day, seven days a week. Since then our flying hours have again been reviewed, and we now routinely provide a 16 hour service all year round, meaning the service flies between lit helipads in the hours of darkness during the winter months.
In 1997 ‘County Air Ambulance’ launched its second operational helicopter and opened a new airbase at Strensham Services on the M5 in Worcestershire. This was to be the first motorway air ambulance airbase in the country, proving to be an excellent location for responding to incidents in the quickest possible time. In fact we love our airbase at Strensham so much that we’re still there today!
We have often enjoyed being the first air ambulance in the UK to try new things. When the Bolkow 105 aircraft was replaced with a state of the art EC135 it was the first time that such an aircraft had ever been used as an air ambulance. The model is now the most popular amongst air ambulances in the UK. The charity’s third helicopter commenced operation in November 1999 at East Midlands Airport. Nine years later this aircraft base was relocated to Tatenhill in Staffordshire as part of a re-organisation of air services in the region.
The air ambulance helicopters were updated with the new generation EC135 on 15th May 2001, the first of which was unveiled by HRH Princess Royal at RAF Cosford.
In 2009 ‘County Air Ambulance’ changed its name to Midlands Air Ambulance Charity aiming to increase the affiliation between the service and the communities it serves.
In 2014 we unveiled our first wholly charity owned EC135 helicopter, named G-OMAA. The helicopter, which cost £4.5 million, has replaced the aircraft located at our RAF Cosford airbase, which was purchased thanks only to the generosity of the general public and a £1.4 million legacy from Mr Derek Bullivant.
We continue to save lives across the communities of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands, flying seven days a week, 365 days a year. To continue this vital service we need to raise in excess of £9 million each year and this is where we need your help.
It is because of you, our fabulous fundraisers, donors, corporate partners and volunteers, the charity has managed to be where it is today and with your continued support we will go on to have a sky high future.
Thank you for your support.