Our cohort of clinicians include a mixture of Senior Emergency Physicians, Intensive Care Consultants and Anaesthetists and Specialist Practitioners in Critical Care. All form part of the air operations crew and, as part of their role, assist the pilot with navigation and operation of some of the aircraft systems.

We provide a Critical Care Team, consisting of at least a Doctor and Specialist Practitioner, for each mission. The doctors are drawn from NHS Hospital Trusts across the region and the practitioners are from the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT). More recently, some clinicians have joined us from further afield, broadening the skills and experience of the team.

Our pilots are provided by Specialist Aviation Services Ltd, who operate our aircraft. They are carefully selected because air ambulance flights are typically more challenging than regular non-emergency flight services. They have a great deal of experience in low-level operations and instrument flying.

We operate 19 hours a day (7.00am – 2.00am) using our AW169 helicopter and Critical Care Car.

Read our latest Clinical Update to see how our clinical and aviation team are providing life-changing care across Dorset and Somerset.

Bridging the Gap

Patient care involves more than just medical treatment. Our Patient and Family Liaison Nurses Jo Petheram and Kirsty Caswell, will provide additional, ongoing support to our patients and their families.    

Year on year Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance contributes to the life journeys of thousands of patients. Many of these are so severely injured or ill that they do not recall the events after their incidentAs a result of their injuries or illness, some also endure enormous physical and mental challenges and at times they do not feel that they have sufficient information about their care or access to help. Sadly, we also attend incidents in which patients do not survive and their remaining families often have important questions about the care that was provided to their loved one in the pre-hospital environment 

These are some of the reasons why we began to look at ways of improving patient care more widely than the emergency care we provide at incident scenes, on route to hospitals and between hospitals. One of our Critical Care Doctors, James Keegan, had experienced first-hand (while working with London’s Air Ambulance), the benefit to patients of having an additional layer of support, which bridged the gap between their pre-hospital care and recovery. In London this role of Patient Liaison Nurse has been developed and led by Senior Nurse Frank Chege for the past five years. Frank very kindly came and spent time with our team and helped to outline how best to set up such a service in Dorset and Somerset. 

When looking at the various destination hospitals for our patients, they cover a wide area; those in the south (University Hospital Southampton, Southampton Children’s Hospital, Poole General Hospital, Bournemouth Hospital, Dorset County Hospital, Salisbury Hospital) and those in the north (Yeovil Hospital, Musgrove Park Hospital, Royal Bath Hospital, Southmead Hospital, Bristol Royal Infirmary, Bristol Children’s Hospital). With our patients spread widely across the two counties and limited road networks in place, we decided to create two part-time Patient and Family Liaison Clinician roles where one would focus on the north and one on the south.  

Their aims are to build and enhance relationships with the respective hospitals, provide support to patients who have been treated by our Critical Care Team to help make sense of their life experiences, answer patients’ questions about their pre-hospital careprovide links with patient support services and other charities that are aligned with the patient’s conditions, and encourage peer support links with other similarly injured patients. This innovative approach is a new development within the South West region. 

Read more about our Patient and Family Liaison Nurses