As well as providing life-saving pre-hospital critical care for 19 hours every day throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our critical care team have stepped towards the challenge of supporting our NHS frontline colleagues ever more, by helping with the transfer of COVID-19 patients from hospitals that are now overwhelmed.

This additional service, which is part of a national effort to prevent the NHS from being completely overrun, is running in parallel to our normal critical care service which responds to seriously ill or injured patients across the region using our AW169 helicopter and critical care car.

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance is one of a few air ambulances across the UK with a team that is primed and fully equipped to carry out this activity. Our clinicians have the skillset and qualifications needed, together with the use of hospital standard equipment which is governed and trained upon on a daily basis. This combination and infrastructure enable them to provide full intensive care to those that need it.

To cover the surge in activity, which we hope will not be for a prolonged period, an additional transfer rota has been put in place. A separate team conduct the transfer whilst our normal critical care shifts carry on uninterrupted. The team may transport the patient by road, by our aircraft ‘Pegasus’ or by the Coastguard helicopter that has been allocated in support of the national effort.

Our first COVID-19 patient transfer took place on the January 9th. Since then, we have been utilised by NHS England eight times, fulfilling all requests that have been asked for.

We feel very proud of our team who continue to put patients at the forefront of everything they do and thank them for what they are doing in the spirit of collective service to society.