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Have you spotted a red and blue helicopter over the skies of Devon? Did you know that, in fact, there are two and they are Devon’s Air Ambulances?
Deployed just like any other ambulance, the helicopters are there to relieve injury and illness in and around the county of Devon. This means they are there for everyone; young or old, resident or holidaymaker. In such a rural county as Devon it’s reassuring to know that should you need essential medical treatment quickly, there is high speed help at hand.
Currently the service costs £4.5 million to keep airborne up to 14 hours a day (daylight allowing). However, at the end of 2016 the Charity is planning to extend flying hours until midnight. This means that it will be able to help even more patients in need. It also means that annual operating costs will rise to £5.5 million.
During the winter months flying hours currently stop around 4.30pm due to fading light and during the summer we continue to fly until 9pm. With the research undertaken we know that patients don’t stop getting ill or having accidents just because it’s dark. In fact, we have case studies to prove the opposite.
One such patient is four year old Harry Edwards-Brady who lives on a farm in Hatherleigh. We were recently delighted to be able to meet a fit and healthy Harry when he visited our airbase with his mum, Emma. It was very different when he needed urgent medical assistance in May 2013.
Harry had been unwell and was particularly quiet and sleepy. Emma kept him off pre-school but, early that evening, little Harry suffered a convulsion and the emergency services were called.
Emma said “It was so frightening to see. I thought Harry was just sleeping on the sofa but then he started fitting and his eyes rolled to the back of his head; it was horrible. Even when the fit stopped, Harry just went limp in my arms and was unconscious; he didn’t respond to anything.”
The fire service first responders were the first to arrive, just ahead of Devon Air Ambulance paramedics. Emma continued, “I was so reassured knowing that help was on its way – and I think everyone breathed a massive sign of relief when the aircrew arrived. I was still so worried about Harry, but at least I was able to go in the helicopter with him to hospital and the paramedics explained everything all the way to Exeter. He had all sorts of tests and was kept in overnight. Thankfully, even just the next day, Harry was pretty much back to his old self. But I’ll never forget how grateful we were that the Air Ambulance came to our rescue.”
Just two weeks later, Harry proved just how well he had recovered as he rode two ponies in the annual Devon County Show and, just five months later, because the youngest rider ever to take part in the Horse of the Year Show, still only 3 years old!
During 2014 Devon Air Ambulance assisted 843 patients. Here are a few of their statistics:
- We were busiest between 2pm and 3pm and the busiest day of the week was Sunday
- 36% of our patients were female and 64% male
- 94 of our patients were children under 18
- 48% of our incidents were medical related
- 51% of our incidents were trauma related (ie accidental)
- Cardiac related incidents are the most frequent reason we are called to assist a patient suffering from a medical problem
- Road Traffic Collisions are the most frequent reason we are called to assist a patient suffering from trauma
- Equestrian incidents are the most common sport/leisure activity we are called out to
- In trauma the most common part of the body to be injured is leg, followed closely by head
- 26% of our patients were taken to a specialist treatment centre, by-passing the closest hospital
- 11% of the incident locations we attended were inaccessible by road
Why not check out our website at www.daat.org for lots of other information about the Charity and the service? There are many different ways to help keep the helicopters flying; including volunteering at events or in our shops, servicing our collection boxes or spreading our message at organised talks. Visit our website and find out how YOU can make a difference.
5 Sandpiper Court, Harrington Lane, Exeter, Devon, EX4 8NS
Registered Charity No: 1077998
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