Having recently donated £2000 to the Great Western Air Ambulance some club members accepted an invitation to visit the new facility at Almondsbury and to find out what they did.
Emma Fawcett, our host, gave us a general talk and showed us round the station. Regrettably, the air ambulance helicopter was out on a call - to the Forest of Dean - but it made a brief visit to offload equipment and then left to pick up the medics and doctors who were treating a patient at the local hospital.
We were all surprised to learn that the helicopter was only used for 30% of the call outs, while the rest were using one of three 'Critical Care Team' cars. Emma explained that the primary importance was not the speed of getting a patient to hospital but having the equipment and specialist paramedics and doctors on board. It basically meant the hospital could be taken to the casualty rather than the other way round. One of the key life-saving procedures that singles out the service is the ability for doctors to place a casualty in an induced coma and hence stabilise them long enough to reach hospital more safely.
On average the service had 5 calls per day with a total of 1808 calls in 2022.
The service operates independent of Government funding but is allied to the NHS, consequently it can purchase state of the art equipment not always available to the NHS but, as a result, it is dependent on public generosity.
The overall cost each year is about £4,000,000 and this is expected to increase with rising prices.
We all enjoyed the trip and it was an eye opener to realise what this essential service uses and requires to save lives.