Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance (DSAA) continues to support the NHS and advocate for patients and their families across the region.

For some patients, the care that DSAA provides is life changing. Maintaining a charity funded, critical care service within NHS governance requires significant investment in professional time and activity. Our hard-working team continuously push and develop themselves to improve DSAA’s operational capability.

Three members of our team were recognised nationally back in November at the Air Ambulance Awards of Excellence. Congratulations to Ian Mew, Wayne Busby and Pete Appleby for this hugely deserved recognition. These awards not only highlight their contribution to the care of the people of Dorset and Somerset, but reflect on the activity of the whole charity team. You can read more about these awards on page 24.

Looking ahead, we are striving to reach more patients than ever and looking to find new ways of utilising our incredible critical care delivery system to greater efficiency, for the people of Dorset and Somerset. Our clinicians, pilots and our engineer recognise that DSAA provides a unique opportunity to advocate for patients and are thankful to the public for enabling this. They know that without charity funding there would be no such critical care capability across our two counties.

Injury prevention

Injury prevention remains a significant focus for DSAA and many of our team are involved with initiatives that support this important topic, specifically in the areas of Young Drivers (through the Safe Drive, Stay Alive initiative, led by the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service), Water Safety (alongside our colleagues at the RNLI) and Motorcyclists (through our partnership with DocBike). A review of the ‘Farmer Down’ initiative is also underway to assess the future direction of this important advocacy.

Injury prevention was a key topic at this year’s Air Ambulances UK National Conference in November. Dr Ian Mew delivered an exceptional presentation about collaborative injury prevention and challenged all air ambulance charities to actively step towards the subject. Ian described the rationale for reducing injuries and used DocBike and many of the other DSAA injury prevention initiatives to exemplify what is possible. The conference presentation provided a significant opportunity to increase collaboration across air ambulance charities, to magnify the impact of injury prevention within the UK.

Decision support

DSAA has continued to advocate for increased regional investment in the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) Desk and actively contributes to the ongoing review of the HEMS desk utilisation. A data review of tasking is underway, (supported by DSAA’s lead research practitioner), which intends to support the identification of patients who could benefit from the care that we provide, but are not currently identified by the existing tasking system.


Over the past six months, our outreach team have continued to develop multi-modal outreach within Dorset and Somerset. Our outreach cars are now operational across both counties, providing an enhanced care service with a practitioner (critical care paramedic or nurse) for 12 hours a day, every day of the week. The number of incidents that the Somerset car has been called to support has substantially increased and the content of the support being provided is incredibly beneficial to the Somerset population. We are extremely proud to be delivering excellent care to critically ill and injured adults and children, guided and delivered by our critical care practitioners and outreach cars.

Another great example of outreach is our relationship with Bournemouth University. At their request, our clinicians have been delivering teaching sessions to student paramedics. This collaboration provides a fantastic opportunity to engage with the paramedics of the future within our region.

Providing critical care

DSAA provides a critical care team (practitioner and doctor) for 19 hours a day, seven days a week. We continue to maintain service reliability with 100 per cent of shifts being covered by a critical care team since April 2016, demonstrating true sustainability and that DSAA is a dependable service for the region.

The reach of DSAA critical care is increasing; the number of patients provided with critical care continues to increase year on year, mainly due to requests from our emergency service colleagues (due to the outreach campaign) and due to ever improving tasking. In the past calendar year (2022-2023) DSAA has treated 1,500 patients, the largest number in our history.

Inter-hospital transfers

We continue to provide time-critical, inter-hospital transport support for adults and children within Dorset and Somerset and the broader South West. A number of patients have benefited from this service over the last six months. DSAA has provided the critical care needed and enabled patients to get to a definitive point of care, as safely and quickly as possible.

Patient and family liaison

Gabi Sam and Chloe New PLC nurses

Following a rigorous selection process, we are delighted to welcome Chloe Riley, Gabrielle Norman and Sam Rutherford, who join our patient and family liaison team. All three, joined Kirsty Caswell and Jo Petheram in October for a comprehensive induction programme and have been co-ordinating closely to continue developing the amazing support they provide. This expansion in the team (now five part-time nurses), represents a significant commitment from the charity to the whole pathway of care and the effect it will have is significant; guiding, supporting and signposting patients and their families during the most harrowing of life experiences. Furthermore, the effect of their work is priceless for our practitioners, doctors and pilots, in understanding the impact of the care they provide for patients.

Find out more about patient and family liaison