Charity Reaches Milestone With ‘Darkness’ Operations

Thanks to the continued support and generosity of the public, Midlands Air Ambulance Charity has been able to extend its life saving service into the hours of darkness for the first time.

For over 23 years, the charity has been at the heart of HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) operations throughout the Midlands, covering a larger area than any other service of its kind in the country, and serving approximately six million people.

Up until September 2014, however, the charity has been operational during 14 hours of daylight in the summer months and just ten in the winter, with its three aircraft carrying out up to eight missions per day across the region.

Now, thanks to generous donations from local individuals, communities and businesses, and the research into the extended demand for the service, the charity will be operational for a 14 hour day throughout the year, transporting patients between lit helipads to the area’s specialist trauma hospitals in the hours of darkness.

Since the first night time patient flight of its kind since September 2014, the charity has already completed 38* patient transfers  where the aircraft have been on a mission after official sunset, 32 per cent of the flights were undertaken by the RAF Cosford-based helicopter, which predominantly covers the Shropshire and West Midlands area.

Air operations manager Becky Tinsley commented that this latest, unique milestone was another step towards providing an operational service throughout the night. She says: “As well as providing crucial HEMS support throughout the day, being able to fly between lit hospital helipads within our extended operating hours throughout the year is significant for the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity. This has only been possible due to the tremendous support we receive from the public, and the hospitals that have provided lit helipad landing sites, but there is still a long way to go in improving the lit helipad network across the region.

“After considerable clinical and operational research into the increasing demand for the service, we have invested a portion of the public’s donations to make this possible and we are delighted to have seen such a benefit so quickly.

“Undertaking full air ambulance missions at night is part of our strategic plan but we cannot achieve this goal without further aircrew training, equipment and a more robust lit helipad network, which is why the continued support of the public is required, now more than ever.”

Becky added that with the potential to account for over 100 missions throughout the year, the extended operational hours would continue to help the charity make a crucial difference to entire Midlands region.

She said: “A patient’s chances of recovery are proven to be dramatically increased if they are able to receive urgent medical attention within 60 minutes of injury or sooner, which is known as the golden hour.

“Our mission is to  help ensure that as many people as possible receive treatment and being able to transport patients in a way never before possible during the hours of darkness is absolutely vital.”

Missions completed since 1991: 50,563 | On average we airlift a child every four days | Road traffic collisions make up around 35% of the incidents we attend | The service airlifts on average four horse riders each week.