air ambulance takes to the skies in Burnham-On-Sea area
brand new air ambulance is set to become a familiar sight in the
skies over the Burnham-On-Sea area as it goes into operation this
and Somerset Air Ambulance announced on Monday that its new AgustaWestland
169 (AW169) helicopter has entered into service.
becomes the first AW169 to enter air ambulance operational service
in the UK and is the culmination of several years of planning and
aircraft was selected following an extensive evaluation process
and the charity says it picked it for its "outstanding characteristics,
superior capabilities and high safety standards".
Sivewright, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Chief Executive Officer,
told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "It has always been the Charity's
aim and clear vision to pursue clinical excellence; pairing Critical
Care Teams with the outstanding capabilities of the AW169 is a natural
development of that vision. Patient benefit remains our top priority
and this was the single biggest criteria in selecting the new aircraft."
ambitions and clinical aspirations determined a particular requirement
from whichever aircraft we selected. The capabilities and flexibility
offered by the AW169 made it a clear winner and in our view it was
the only aircraft which fully met our criteria."
major plus in selecting a new mark of aircraft is that you are taking
advantage of the latest advances in technology. That means that
it is safer and easier to maintain and operate."
medical equipment in the AW169 will not be hugely different to that
which was carried on the charity's previous aircraft, however the
biggest difference is the space inside the cabin.
allows the Critical Care Team to have complete access to a patient,
head to toe; a significant benefit if a patient needs further intervention
or treatment on-route to hospital.
the past few months, the life-saving service has increased its operating
hours from 12 to 19 hours a day (7am-2am). During this time and
in the hours of darkness, the crews have been deployed using a Critical
added: "We are most grateful to Specialist Aviation Services
who operate the AW169 helicopter on our behalf. They have worked
closely with our clinical team to develop a medical interior that
will enable them to more fully meet the needs of our patients than
AW169's night flying capabilities mean that we can now move forward
into providing full night HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service)
team will have the ability to fly directly to the patient without
the need of any fixed or pre-established lighting which is a significant
advantage. We are now looking forward to completing night HEMS training
and subsequently operating the new aircraft for 19 hours a day.
approach has been truly innovative and as a result the AW169 has
had to undergo very intense scrutiny by the European Aviation Safety
Agency. This is why it has taken a little longer than we had hoped
for the aircraft to become operational, however it has certainly
been worth the wait and we are delighted to now have clearance to
continued: "The standard of clinical provision delivered by
our Critical Care Team is arguably the best available anywhere.
That is a bold claim but one that I make quite confidently. In the
past year we have enhanced our team clinically, enhanced the service
with the carriage of blood products increased our operational hours
and can now ensure that these are all delivered in one of the most
advanced helicopters available."
however, does not mean that we can rest on our laurels; our crews
strive continuously to develop their knowledge and skills to ensure
that the patients they attend receive the best treatment possible.
Their challenge to the Charity is to provide them with the right
tools for the job."
am proud to say that we can meet that challenge head on because
of the incredible support of the people of Dorset and Somerset.
Through their support, as members of our Flight for Life Lottery,
individual or group donations from events and even by remembering
us in their wills, they enable us to be everything that they want
from their air ambulance."
launching in March 2000, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance has flown
nearly 12,000 missions. Its operational costs are over £2
million a year. The approximate cost per mission is £2,500.
With no direct Government or National Lottery funding, it relies
on the generosity of the public for support.
is tasked as part of the normal '999' emergency process by a dedicated
Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) desk located at Ambulance
Control (paid for by the South West Air Ambulance Charities).
airbase is situated at Henstridge Airfield on the Dorset/Somerset
border. From there, it can be at any point in the two counties in
less than 20 minutes. More importantly, the helicopter can, if required,
then take a patient to the nearest Major Trauma Centre in the South
West within a further 20 minutes.
clinicians include a mixture of Senior Emergency Physicians, Intensive
Care Consultants and Anaesthetists, Specialist Paramedics (Critical
Care) and a small number of Paramedics and a Nurse who are working
towards the 'Specialist' qualification.
The charity's pilots are provided by Specialist Aviation Services
Ltd, who operate the aircraft. They are carefully selected because
air ambulance flights are typically more challenging than regular
non-emergency flight services. They will have a great deal of experience
in low-level operations and instrument flying.
information on Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance can be found by
The new Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance AW169 helicopter; the
larger cabin area giving full access to the patient; and inside
the front seat