Last year (2017/18), Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance was mobilised to 1,197 incidents; an increase of 35% on the previous year. Statistics also show that we treated almost double the number of patients last year than we did five years ago. Those who needed our help were an even mix of both medically ill and traumatically injured patients. Time-critical inter-hospital transfers also rose significantly last year to 21; five times the number transferred in 2012/13. 

Our Critical Care Team has been using blood products since 2016. During this time, blood has been transfused to 72 patients, drastically improving their chances of getting to hospital alive. As well as using packed red cells (blood), the team has also used freeze-dried plasma (a yellow component of blood, separated at the time of donation, which contains clotting factors and helps to stop patients from bleeding). However, within the last six months, on a global level, freeze-dried plasma has become more and more difficult to source.

On 17th July 2018, we went live with ‘shock packs’, which contain four units of blood and four units of thawed plasma in its liquid form. Thawed plasma is something that is normally associated with Major Trauma Centres such as Southampton or Southmead Hospitals. Having these products immediately at hand means that our team has an amazing resource with which to resuscitate both adults and children who are suffering from severe trauma, or other conditions in which very large quantities of blood have been lost. 

When patients are critically ill or injured, a key element in their survival is arriving at a hospital with the specialist expertise to enable immediate life saving care. Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance plays a key role in this chain of survival as our clinical team stabilise patients whilst the aviation team enable vast distances to be travelled rapidly.

Our night operations began in November 2017 and there have been some startling examples of lives saved by the availability, delivery and actions of our crew. The number of patients reached and treated during 2018/19 is expected to rise once again, with our nocturnal operations accounting for at least a third of this activity.