Due to recent events surrounding COVID-19, the demand on Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance has increased, however our current view, which is shared through our close and daily collaboration with the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and NHS hospitals across our region, is that we are better serving the local community by continuing to deliver our service at this time.

As we stand today, the crew of Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance are responding 19 hours per day with a critical care team to patients across our two counties and across the borders of our neighbouring air ambulance services as required and directed by the Ambulance Service.   

One advantage we offer at this time, is that if a patient needs to be moved rapidly from one hospital to another, we do so without requiring a clinical team to be deployed from the requesting hospital. Clearly at a time when clinical staff in hospitals are under intense pressure, this could be just the answer. Things can change very quickly through demand, staff availability or legislation and we continue to review the situation on a daily basis with our NHS partners.

Guidance and policies set by the Ambulance Service and Public Health England, state that air ambulances will not be tasked to any suspected or confirmed cases involving Coronavirus patients. It is our current view, and that of our aircraft operator, that the risk of infection to our pilots is not of a sufficient level to justify grounding our aircraft.

Our clinical team approach each incident, conscious of the fact that there could be a Coronavirus element involved. Working closely within aviation legislation and NHS Ambulance Service governance, our team dons appropriate PPE as and when required. They continue to provide the care and interventions required by a patient’s illness or injuries and continue to convey the patient to hospital, whether that is with the assistance of road ambulances or by aircraft. The important thing is that our clinical team continue to be delivered to patients in a timely and safe manner.

Our whole team are playing their part in the collaborative NHS response to COVID-19. Because of the diverse capabilities within our service, that part may shift in emphasis over the next weeks to months.