From just one helicopter flying out of a temporary airbase, to three helicopters serving a population of more than six million people, Midlands Air Ambulance Charity certainly has come a long way since 1991.
We can proudly say that our dedicated flight paramedics and doctors have responded to more than 70,000 incidents.
However, none of this would have been possible without our fantastic fundraisers and volunteers, so where did it all begin?
A handful of people formally launched a new air ambulance service called ‘Air 5’ at Hagley Hall in Worcestershire, operating a Bolkow aircraft. The 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!
‘Air 5’ moved its airbase to RAF Cosford in Shropshire, where our air operations hub 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 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 daily 13-hour service all year round, meaning the service flies between lit helipads in the hours of darkness during the winter months.
‘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 air ambulance airbase located on a motorway network in the country, proving to be an excellent location for responding to incidents in the quickest possible time.
An EC135 was leased for Strensham from Babcock Mission Critical Services, then known as Bond Air Services. 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 airbase opened 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 Bolkow at RAF Cosford was replaced with another EC135, also leased from Babcock Mission Critical Services.
‘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; registered G-OMAA, which was purchased thanks only to the generosity of the general public, and a £1.4 million legacy from Mr Derek Bullivant.
Originally based from RAF Cosford, the helicopter, which cost £4.5 million, is now operational from the Strensham airbase.
Crews on-board our Helimed03 and Helimed09 air ambulances were presented the Emergency Services Award at the Pride of Britain Awards for their involvement in the Smiler Rollercoaster incident at Alton Towers.
To assist with helicopter emergency medical services in rural areas of the region, volunteer-run Community Lit Landing Sites ‘CELLS’ were launched across Herefordshire and Shropshire.
Together with other air ambulance charities across the UK, we started a research trial looking whether administering blood products on scene would provide a benefit to the patients.
Our new fleet of three BMW X5 rapid response vehicles went into operation. The cars are used when the airbase helicopters are offline (due to bad weather for example), enabling the crews to still rapidly respond to incidents.
We launched our second wholly charity owned helicopter, a H145 air ambulance, registered G-RMAA, funded thanks to generous donations from our supporters. This aircraft is based from RAF Cosford, with their aircraft being moved to Strensham, and Strensham’s ‘G-HWAA’ moving to Tatenhill.
On 1st June 2018, MAAC launched a new service in Birmingham and the Black Country to specifically tend to those suffering from either a heart attack, cardiac arrest, sepsis, stroke or serious respiratory issues.
The Critical care car is operated between 7am and 7pm by a critical care paramedic.
To support advanced patient care in the region, and thanks to grant from the HELP Appeal, we invested in new medical equipment kit bags and flight helmets for the crew.
Equipped with the same advanced medical kit and equipment as our helicopters. It has been operational since May 2019, and predominantly covers Worcester, operating daily between 8am and 8pm. It has been specifically designed tend to those suffering from either a heart attack, cardiac arrest, sepsis, stroke or serious respiratory issues.
As the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK, we launched our virtual Sky Champs Education Programme to support parents working from home with children aged four to seven years old.
A computer generated impression of the proposed Airbase and Charity Headquarters.
Our planning application for our new airbase and charity headquarters is approved and later that year initial ground works started on site.
We became an independent emergency pre-hospital healthcare organisation, directly employing the Critical Care Paramedics and Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine Doctors. We are now Care Quality Commission registered and have a Home Office licence for our medicines.
Our annual Bike4Life Ride Out & Festival fundraising event, which attracts more than 8,000 motorcyclists and visitors raised a milestone £100,000.
Due to the increasing number of incident call outs the crews rapidly respond to, we undertook our 70,000th mission.
We continue to save lives across the communities of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands, operating seven days a week, 365 days a year.
To continue this vital service, we need to raise in excess of £11-12 million each year and this is where we need your help.
It is because of you, our fabulous fundraisers, donors, corporate partners and volunteers that the charity has managed to be where it is today and with your support we will continue to offer our lifesaving service to people in your area.
Thank you for your support.