Air Ambulance supporting the NHS through public donations
The last couple of months have been uncertain and worrying times in terms of people’s health, wellbeing and ways of living. As a charity, your local air ambulance has made impactful changes that have never previously needed to be considered.
Your local air ambulance’s aim is to not only save the lives of those who need the vital service in their hour of need but to also continue supporting the functions of our National Health Service (NHS) – tirelessly battling the pandemic.
The lifesaving service’s clinical teams have always worked in conjunction with the NHS to deliver the highest level of pre-hospital critical care and life-saving treatment in a variety of places and circumstances.
By continuing their vital service during this pandemic – thanks to public donations – and working alongside frontline ambulance crews, the resources of the NHS can be concentrated on those that are affected by COVID-19.
Your local air ambulance crews not only cover their five counties, but they also provide ‘mutual aid’ to support other emergency services further afield, often resulting in an increase of emergency calls across more counties. And although there has been a drop in some mission types, such as RTCs due to fewer people being on the road, there will always be accidents and emergencies with a need for their clinical crews to provide their critical care.
During this pandemic, the clinical teams have been working even closer with the other air ambulances, as well as the NHS teams, with daily updates and guidance provided by the government.
This guidance assists in keeping the teams, patients and the general public safe as they continue their missions.
When the restrictions came into place, your local air ambulance needed to review and implement a number of new processes, like thousands of others across the globe and with Government guidance ever-evolving some of the changes to the service have included:
What personal protective equipment (PPE) the clinical teams are required to wear, when to wear it and when it’s safe to remove, the missions they attend and how this is affected by entering the homes of patients, as well as transferring patients and how and when to do this.
One of the biggest changes has been how the service operate their critical care cars. The helicopters are often the fastest mode of transport to get to a patient, however, government guidance did not allow the conveyance of patients by air to hospital, who were suspected or confirmed with having COVID-19.
Due to the stringent and necessary decontamination measures needed after each patient transfer, and the additional exposure risks to the pilots and sensitive aviation equipment and instruments, they are currently conveying patients using land ambulances.
There is a lot of work going on in developing a safe system to enable your local air ambulance to use the aircraft for patient transfers again.
Due to the level of the pandemic, doctors and nurses have been called from all areas, including those that have retired, to support the COVID-19 cases occurring in the UK.
For your local air ambulance service, this has meant that some of their doctors needed to do more shifts back within their trust hospitals, resulting in a reduced amount of shifts they can offer the service.
However, with your local air ambulances’ independent structure, their full-time clinical staff and other doctors have provided flexibility with shift patterns, enabling the service to continue being fully operational – providing their expert level of critical care 24/7.
As with all charities, funding is integral in helping your local air ambulance support the NHS by continuing their missions. With lockdown impacting vital funds from charity stores, stalling community fundraising and preventing challenge events, it’s even more important now than ever to help charities like theirs to run by giving anything that is possible.