When required, the team based at the charity’s North Weald Airbase travel by helicopter or Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV) to the relevant hospital and accompany the patient in a designated land ambulance to the receiving hospital. At present, this is happening once or twice a day. When not engaged with transfers, the team continues providing its normal response to pre-hospital emergencies.
A second team based at EHAAT’s Earls Colne Airbase is continuing to respond to the charity’s normal workload of medical emergencies, cardiac arrests, road traffic collisions, serious injuries etc.
Helping relieve stress on the ‘incredibly busy system’
Stuart Elms, Clinical Director at EHAAT, said: “As soon as we identified there was a need, we put plans in place in early January to help with these transfers with the same outstanding level of care and clinical governance that we apply to our usual caseload. The first request came in within a few days, and we were happy to help. This is not affecting our ability to respond to emergencies in the normal way, but we will continue to review this.
“The system is currently incredibly busy, and we are helping to move Covid-19 patients from hospitals in our region that are facing challenges due to the unprecedented number of patients they are seeing, to those with capacity. The aim is to help level the load and redistribute this huge demand.
“We are doing everything we can to keep our patients, staff, volunteers and supporters safe at the moment and East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) are helping us by vaccinating all our frontline patient-facing staff.”
2020 was busiest year ever for the charity
Last year was the charity’s busiest ever year, despite a brief fall in the number of incidents its teams were sent to during the first lockdown. Between January and December, EHAAT’s crews attended 1,626 patients, up six per cent on the 2019 figure of 1,526. One reason for the increase was that 2020 was the first full year of 24/7 operations, which began in October 2019. A total of 480 patients were attended at night, who would have previously been in need outside of our operational hours.
2020 was also the first full year in which the charity’s helicopters and RRVs carried blood supplies on board, enabling potentially life-saving blood transfusions to be given on-scene before a patient reaches hospital. A total of 72 patients received blood transfusions at the scene of an incident or in the air last year.
From Monday 18 January, UK air ambulance charities are launching a national wellness campaign, as with the colder weather and the arrival of new strains of Covid-19, emergency services teams are feeling the pressure now more than ever.