As you might expect, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance work in close partnership with the NHS on a number of fronts...

Our main partner is the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT), which covers the largest geographic area of any ambulance service in the country and has five air ambulance charities operating within its area (Cornwall Air Ambulance, Devon Air Ambulance, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, Great Western Air Ambulance and Wiltshire Air Ambulance). Importantly, all clinical care provided by DSAA is governed by the NHS through SWASFT.

In 2007, SWASFT created a permanent Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) desk to cover the south west region and recruited three dispatchers to work on what was then the first full-time HEMS desk in the country. Today a team of eight HEMS dispatchers are responsible for deploying all six air ambulance helicopters (Devon Air Ambulance has two aircraft) across the region for a 20-hour period while any of the air ambulances are operational. This is a dynamic and vast geographical area and should the need arise, the team can also call on support from HM coastguard, the police and search and rescue. The desk is paid for by the five air ambulance charities that it serves who also ensure that mutual aid is provided and that boundaries do not affect a patient’s care.

Our doctors are all employed by NHS Hospital Trusts across the region. The charity funds the time they work on the air ambulance through service level agreements with each doctor’s employing NHS Trust. Having ties with the respective hospitals builds relationships and trust, while, most importantly, enabling patients to have a smoother transition from the pre-hospital to the in-hospital environment.

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