At the start of Air Ambulance Week, our CEO, Charles Hackett, shares why your support is needed now more than ever.

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance (DSAA) reached even more patients in the last year than ever before because of public support. In the twelve months to March 2023, we were tasked to 2,424 incidents. Every mission costs approximately £3,500.

The core work of our service is to provide pre-hospital critical care and enhanced care to patients in need. Critical care is the treatment of people who are critically ill or injured or in an unstable condition and might not be able to breathe without support.

Within hospital, critical care is provided within Intensive Care Units and specialists are on hand to deliver that care. However, out of hospital this care is not provided by the NHS itself. It relies on a critical care team being able to reach and treat a patient wherever they may be and then have the ability to transport them directly to the right hospital, so they can receive the urgent ongoing care they need.

DSAA does exactly that with help from the speed and response of a helicopter. Our critical care team consists of at least one doctor, one specialist practitioner, a pilot and a co-pilot, who are on duty 19 hours a day, every day of the year. Furthermore, we provide enhanced care via two outreach cars located in both Dorset and Somerset for 12 hours a day.

This capability has come a long way since providing our first pioneering team of one pilot and two paramedics well over 20 years ago. Since then, we have been very careful to spend funds only in the best interest of our patients, however, running an aircraft is not cheap. With inflation and the need for us to reach an increased number of patients, costs are going up just at the time when our supporters are feeling the economic squeeze.

The charity’s vision is to reach every patient that needs pre-hospital critical care or enhanced care, something that would not otherwise be available to them. At the moment, there are times when we just cannot be available – there may be weather limitations, the aircraft may need essential maintenance, or a patient might need critical care during the five hours a day we currently do not operate. Therefore, we have been spending time looking at what developments, what equipment and what facilities we need to reach these patients as well.

DSAA is 95% funded by charitable giving. We receive no direct funding from the Government or the National Lottery and rely on the generosity of the local community for support. Patients who need critical care, patients who one day could be any of us or someone we love, deserve to have this care available to them when they need it. So please, if you are able, support us in whatever way you can and allow us to help them too.

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