Fifteen years on from that first flight, the crew are tasked to around four emergency missions every day mirroring previous years, and are able to provide advanced life-saving care usually found in a hospital emergency department.
One of the longest-serving members of the team, Dr David Sutton, who has been flying with the charity from its outset, has praised the ‘amazing support’ from the public who have kept them flying and saving lives.
Throughout the years, Dr Sutton has witnessed and treated almost ‘every injury and illness imaginable’, from an armed robbery in Chandler’s Ford to performing open heart surgery in a patient’s house. “The patient had been stabbed in the left side of his heart,” Dr Sutton recalled. “My paramedic colleague, Mike, and I simultaneously opened the casualty's chest on the landing of the house, exposed the heart, emptied the sack around the heart full of blood and found a single hole in the left ventricle. I then blocked the hole whilst Mike transfused blood.”
And now that he’s hanging up his flight suit for good, Dr Sutton has thanked the generosity from the public who have allowed him and his colleagues to carry out their life-saving work, 365 days a year.
Dr Sutton said: “Quite simply, we would not have the service we do without the amazing support we have had from the public. Thanks to everyone over the years who has played their part.”
Specialized treatment in the air
One of those 15,000 patients was 32-year-old Claire Danson. With her dream of becoming a professional triathlete in reach, Claire collided with a tractor during a routine cycle ride, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. The air ambulance team attended and provided Claire with specialist treatment before flying her to hospital.
Claire commented: “You effectively wake up one day and your body is completely different to how you've ever known it. That can make you feel quite differently about yourself.
“I had limited knowledge of the air ambulance before my accident, but me and my family know that I wouldn't be alive today without them.”
It costs the service, which receives no government funding, an average of £3,320 for every emergency mission.