London’s Air Ambulance Charity (LAAC) has reported that its advanced trauma team responded to 1,713 critically injured patients last year, as part of its 2021 Annual Mission Report.
This represents a year-on-year rise of 219 more patients compared with 2020, with an average callout rate of 4.7 missions per day.
Of these, 595 were due to ‘penetrating trauma’ – a broad term that includes a range of violent crimes including stabbings and shootings, as well as injuries such as accidental self-impalement. This represents 35 per cent of all emergency missions attended in 2021. Penetrating trauma incidents have accounted for more callouts than road traffic collisions since 2018.
In addition, LAAC responded to 389 patients involved in road traffic collisions, 379 who had fallen from height. The remaining 350 missions were in response to a mixture of incidents, including industrial accidents, drowning, rail incidents and other medical emergencies.
Callouts peaked in the late summer, with August being the busiest month of 2021. The three busiest boroughs were Westminster (93 missions), Croydon (92 missions) and Tower Hamlets (85 missions).
LAAC plans to replace its helicopter fleet by 2024
Jonathan Jenkins, Chief Executive of LAAC, said: “We are so grateful for the support of our National Health Service (NHS) partners, however even with their passionate backing, we still need to find 89 per cent of our income from donations and the support of generous Londoners. This need is even more pressing than usual, as we face a £6-million reduction in income over the next few years due to the impact of the pandemic.
“This has come at a particularly challenging time as we need to replace our helicopter fleet by 2024, at a cost of around £15 million. These two new helicopters are essential so that we can continue to deliver our mission to save more lives in London. They will be more efficient, capable of incorporating new digital capacities, will be fitted for night vision flying and will help the service continue to push medical boundaries,” Jenkins added.