“The Wiltshire Air Ambulance helicopter, based in Outmarsh on the outskirts of Semington near Melksham, can reach anywhere in Wiltshire within 11 minutes.”
So said the speaker at this meeting, Douglas Looman, and he continued: “It’s a yellow and green Bell 429 helicopter and is the first of its type to be used as an air ambulance in the UK. It can fly at a top speed of 178 mph and its call sign is Helimed22. On board, in addition to the pilot, there is room for two paramedics, a patient and, if needed, a passenger. As for equipment, it not only carries everything found in a land ambulance but also some specialist kit, and blood and plasma. These extra items are so that the crew can provide the best medical care possible.”
Operational for up to 19 hours a day, the air ambulance can scramble in two minutes. On average it attends three missions a day. The paramedics also use rapid response cars to attend incidents by road when the helicopter is unable to fly or if it is quicker to reach the location by car. The cars have the same medical equipment onboard as in the helicopter.
All of this is paid for purely by donations. Wiltshire Air Ambulance is a registered charity (No. 1144097) and relies entirely on donations. It receives no direct funding from the Government or National Lottery grants. Its costs amount to a staggering £11,000 per day.
In May 2018, thanks to some extra support and incredibly generous donations, it was able to move into its present airbase, a purpose-built airbase and premises near Semington. Here, all its crew and charity team are under the one roof, making running the lifesaving service much more cost-effective. The charity was forced to find another home when the lease on its former centre in Devizes ended.
Our speaker concluded: "So, thanks to you and the general public, the air ambulance is there to serve you and all the people of Wiltshire well into the future."
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