Flight paramedic Rob Davies explains how the G-HWAA helicopter takes off to a group of open day visitors at the Strensham airbase in Worcestershire. The Midlands Air Ambulance Charity annual open day is one of the most popular events in the calendar and is the best way to get up close and personal with all the organisation’s lifesaving work. The day includes a variety of fun activities and displays in addition to the Eurocopter EC135 aircraft. Members of the aircrew are also on hand to tell visitors about their work.
G-OMAA lands beside G-HWAA at the Strensham airbase in Worcestershire during the charity’s annual open day. G-OMAA is Midlands Air Ambulance Charity’s first wholly owned helicopter which replaced one of the three leased aircraft. The newly registered Eurocopter EC135T2e undertook its maiden flight from Gloucestershire Airport to the Cosford airbase in Shropshire in February 2014. Since its unveiling the Cosford crew have carried out hundreds of helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) missions.
Flight paramedic Giles Griffiths sits in G-HWAA wearing a Star Wars TIE Fighter pilot helmet at the Strensham airbase in Worcestershire during the charity’s annual open day. The UK Garrison group, one of the foremost Star Wars costuming groups in the country, attended the annual open day to help raise funds for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity. The popular event is attended by many groups and organisations that all help and contribute to the charity in one way or another. The annual open day raised nearly £3,000.
The Cosford aircraft G-OMAA sits alongside G-HWAA at the Strensham airbase in Worcestershire during the annual open day. G-HWAA is Midlands Air Ambulance Charity’s oldest helicopter registered in 2005 whereas G-OMAA is the latest helicopter registered in 2013. The charity owns the Eurocopter EC135T2e and leases two other aircraft registered G-HWAA and G-EMAA from Bond Air Services. The unique registration of each air ambulance is displayed on the tail boom which costs in the region of £200,000.
The corridor is where the crew of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity prepare for a mission at the Tatenhill airbase in Staffordshire. The flight helmets and jackets are kept in the corridor so the aircrew can make a swift exit to the aircraft in the event of an emergency call. The navigation map and aviation related notices are also on the wall to help the crew plot the way towards the incident location. The three aircrew can be airborne in just two minutes of an emergency call and can reach 90% of the region within eight minutes.
The aircrew of Helimed 09 walk back to the Tatenhill airbase in Staffordshire after their first mission of the day. Critical care paramedic Ian Lock walks alongside Captain Tim Jones whilst flight paramedic Pete Edwards follows behind. A motorcyclist had suffered a badly broken leg after being found ten metres from where his bike was in a collision with a car. Fortunately the 33 year old male had been wearing full leathers and a crash helmet which had reduced his other injuries. He was taken to Walsall Manor Hospital by road.
Flight paramedic Pete Edwards takes an emergency call alongside critical care paramedic Ian Lock at the Tatenhill airbase in Staffordshire. When a 999 call comes in it is the responsibility of the West Midlands Ambulance Service airdesk team to decide whether an air ambulance is needed. If an immediate dispatch is required, the team will swiftly obtain the appropriate grid reference for the incident scene, before calling the appropriate airbase. Each airbase is equipped with a dedicated red telephone handset for these calls.
Critical care paramedic Ian Lock refuels G-EMAA at the Tatenhill airbase in Staffordshire after an afternoon mission. The distinctive red flight suits, supplied by RIG Equipment Ltd, are vitally important to the flight paramedics and doctors of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity. They are designed to allow the aircrew to move and carry out their lifesaving work with minimal effort. The fire retardant suits include hazard protection padding, high visibility strips and many storage pockets. Each specially made suit costs £350.
G-EMAA comes into land at the Tatenhill airbase in Staffordshire. The team was called out towards Stoke on Trent before they were sent back to base as they were no longer needed. When some first responders arrived on scene the incident was not as serious as first suspected. Midlands Air Ambulance Charity airlifts those in the greatest need of immediate treatment and those who need specialist hospital treatment quickly as the helicopters can transfer patients to the most appropriate hospital in under fifteen minutes.
Captain Tim Jones from Bond Air Services checks the rotors of G-EMAA based at the Tatenhill airbase in Staffordshire after an evening mission. The charity’s pilots have many responsibilities to keep the three Midlands Air Ambulance Charity aircraft operational in addition to flying the helicopter. Their duties include transporting the aircraft in and out of the hangar, briefing the aircrew about the weather and flying conditions, the fuelling and maintenance of the helicopter and the flight report after every HEMS mission.
G-EMAA sits on the tarmac as the Saturday shift draws to a close at the Tatenhill airbase in Staffordshire. Across the three airbases the aircrew of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity fly between 7am until 9pm. The Cosford airbase in Shropshire runs from 7am to 7pm, the Strensham airbase in Worcestershire runs from 9am to 9pm and the Tatenhill airbase in Staffordshire runs from 8am to 8pm. The aircrew can carry out full HEMS missions during daylight hours but can only fly between lit helipads in the hours of darkness.
The hangar at the Strensham airbase in Worcestershire is home to G-HWAA, also known as Helimed 06. Since 1991 the charity has responded to more than 43,000 missions, averaging 2,000 every year making it one of the longest established and busiest air ambulance organisations in the United Kingdom. Every morning the duty pilot performs fuel checks and transports the helicopter onto the pad ready for its first mission. The hangar is also home to specialist medical equipment and helicopter maintenance apparatus.
The Strensham airbase in Worcestershire is situated at the Strensham Services on the M5 motorway. The airbase was opened in 1999 and was the first motorway air ambulance airbase in the country, proving to be an excellent location for responding to incidents in the quickest possible time. It is home to the Education and Training Centre where school children can have the chance to handle a range of specialist tools such as flight suits, helmets and lifesaving equipment used by Midlands Air Ambulance Charity.
Captain Mark Dennis’s flight helmet hangs inside G-HWAA at the Strensham airbase in Worcestershire. Mark is one of two duty pilots based at Strensham and has been working with Midlands Air Ambulance Charity since September 2011. Since he began his flying career Mark worked for the Royal Air Force and Police Aviation Services before becoming a HEMS pilot at Strensham. During a mission all the aircrew must wear a helmet for protection and communication purposes. Each helmet costs the charity around £1,500.
Flight paramedic Laura Rogers refuels G-HWAA whilst Captain James McAlpine oversees the fuel intake at the Strensham airbase in Worcestershire. Laura works with West Midlands Ambulance Service's Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) and was one of six new recruits to join Midlands Air Ambulance Charity in October 2014. All new flight paramedics have to undertake a helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) course that teaches them about navigation, meteorology, basic airmanship and safety around the aircraft.
Aircrew supervisor Julian Spiers talks with a previous patient beside G-HWAA at the Strensham airbase in Worcestershire. The Midlands Air Ambulance Charity aircrew are supplied by West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and most medics work on the helicopters for three years. Some staff stay longer and become aircrew supervisors like Jim Hancox and Ian Roberts who manage the day-to-day happenings at Strensham. The service operates with 100% doctor coverage out of the Cosford airbase.
Captain Dave Watkins transports G-EMAA out of the hangar at the Tatenhill airbase in Staffordshire. Every morning the pilot transports the helicopter onto the helipad ready for its first mission. The air ambulance is moved with the use of a TLC Helilift which elevates the aircraft by lifting its landing skids. The hydraulic machine can lift the three tonne aircraft and can elevate it thirty centimetres off the ground. Some helicopters have wheels however the Eurocopter EC135 has tubular skids to save both weight and volume.
Captain Dave Watkins briefs aircrew supervisor Ian Jones and flight paramedic Dave Bentley on the flying conditions of the day at the Tatenhill airbase in Staffordshire. Twenty-five years ago on Tuesday 21 May 1991 a handful of people formally launched a new air ambulance service called ‘Air 5’ at Hagley Hall in Worcestershire. The new air ambulance service was one of the first of its kind in the UK and would be operational five days a week. Six days later the crew responded to its first flying mission to Hay on Wye.
The helicopter badge hangs on a cord in front of the navigation map inside the Tatenhill airbase in Staffordshire. When the crew of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity are tasked with a mission, the crew respond by pulling the badge towards the incident location on the map and then read the degree coordinates. Once in the air it is the role of the medical crew aboard to assist the pilot with navigation and then on arrival at the scene the pilot then pinpoints the optimal landing site for patient care and safety.
Flight paramedic Dave Bentley prepares for his critical care paramedic exam alongside aircrew supervisor Ian Jones in the office at the Tatenhill airbase in Staffordshire. The two medics were practising with a LIFEPAK 15 Monitor/Defibrillator that costs Midlands Air Ambulance Charity around £15,000. Dave has been with West Midlands Ambulance Service since 2007 after serving in the British Army where he was involved in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is still completing his critical care paramedic course.
Captain Dave Watkins transports G-EMAA into the hangar at the Tatenhill airbase in Staffordshire after a day of no missions. The pilots who work with Midlands Air Ambulance Charity are supplied by Bond Air Services. The group is the largest operator of air ambulance aircraft in the United Kingdom and operates from twenty-three bases around the country and has two maintenance facilities at Staverton and Glasgow. Bond Air Services pioneered the use of helicopters as dedicated air ambulances in the late 1980s.
All three helicopters operated by Midlands Air Ambulance Charity are equipped with a range of specialist medical equipment and supplies including G-OMAA based at the Cosford airbase in Shropshire. The aircraft carries two response bags which cost £300 each. The LIFEPAK 15 Monitor/Defibrillator costs the charity around £15,000. The paraPAC plus 310 ventilator secured above the defibrillator costs £4,000. Each mission costs £2,500 and in excess of £7 million is needed each year to keep three helicopters operational.
The EC135T2e G-OMAA sits on the helipad as thick cloud begins to cover the Cosford airbase in Shropshire. In October 1991 ‘Air 5’ moved its airbase to RAF Cosford in Shropshire, where the air operations hub still remains today. Eventually ‘Air 5’ was renamed ‘County Air Ambulance’ in recognition of the eleven counties of England and Wales then served by the charity. G-OMAA cost £4.5 million and was purchased thanks only to the generosity of the general public and a £1.4 million legacy from Mr Derek Bullivant.
The friendly staff of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity work at the headquarters near Stourbridge in the West Midlands. From just one helicopter flying out of a temporary airbase to three helicopters serving a population of over 5.5 million people, the charity has come a long way since 1991. In May 1991 a handful of people formally launched a new air ambulance service called ‘Air 5’ at Hagley Hall in Worcestershire. The new service was one of the first of its kind in the country and would be operational five days a week.
The headquarters building of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity is where the organisation’s staff manage the lifesaving charity. Six days after its launch ‘Air 5’ responded to its first flying mission. A woman had suffered a fall on the mountainside in Hay on Wye in Powys and needed emergency pre-hospital medical care. Quick into action the newly established flight crew rushed to the scene, stabilising the patient before airlifting her to Herefordshire Hospital in just six minutes. The charity’s first successful mission had just been completed.