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 two vital resources, which include 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.

Blood products

Our Critical Care Team has been using blood products since 2016. During this time, blood has been transfused to 72 patients, drastically improving their chances of getting to hospital alive. As well as using packed red cells (blood), the team has also used freeze-dried plasma (a yellow component of blood, separated at the time of donation, which contains clotting factors and helps to stop patients from bleeding). However, within the last six months, on a global level, freeze-dried plasma has become more and more difficult to source.

On 17th July 2018, we went live with ‘shock packs’, which contain four units of blood and four units of thawed plasma in its liquid form. Thawed plasma is something that is normally associated with Major Trauma Centres such as Southampton or Southmead Hospitals. Having these products immediately at hand means that our team has an amazing resource with which to resuscitate both adults and children who are suffering from severe trauma, or other conditions in which very large quantities of blood have been lost. 

You can read more about the work of the Devon Freewheelers, who help maintain our blood supplies, and find out how you could give an amazing gift by becoming a blood donor.