London Air Ambulance

London Air Ambulance

London's Air Ambulance, is an air ambulance, also known as a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS), which responds to seriously ill or injured casualties in and around London, England.

Formed in 1989 by Dr. Alastair Wilson, OBE, and headed by chief of trauma Mr James John Attridge the service is based at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, the service is unique in the UK in that the helicopter carries a doctor trained in emergency medicine in addition to a paramedic at all times. The operational area of responsibility is London and the area within the M25 motorway, though it can fly further afield if requested to. The team can be airborne within 2 minutes of receiving a call. From its hospital base, the furthest section of the M25 and thus the usual limit of responsibility, is only 12 minutes flying time. The service operates from 7am until sunset, when the helicopter cannot fly because of the difficulties associated with landing on un-surveyed sites at night. At night the medical crew still respond to emergencies, but travel in a specially fitted and equipped rapid response car, the cars occasionally operate during the day with both a doctor and a paramedic, carrying backup medical teams to major incidents or responsing to local incidents or incidents that occur whilst the helicopter team is deployed. The ready team (Medic 1) is supplemented by a second team (Medic 2) who normally work in the A&E department at the Royal London Hospital. The aircraft is hangared at Denham during the night.

The current helicopter used is a McDonnell Douglas MD 902 Explorer, registration "G-EHMS", which is notable as it does not use a tail-rotor. This was felt to be a useful feature, as the helicopter has to routinely land in confined inner city areas. It replaced a SA 365N Dauphin in 2000, that was registered "G-HEMS".

The service costs £1.7 million a year to run, but is only partly funded by the NHS. London's Air Ambulance in a registered charity (Number 801013) and the service is funded through charitable donations and corporate donors, most notably by the Virgin Group and Investec. A full list of corporate donors is available on the HEMS website. The charity also runs a weekly lottery to raise funds for the service, and holds a number of small and large scale fundraising events throughout the year.

During 2005, a total of 1,335 missions were undertaken and crews attended the following:

* 450 road accident victims
* 220 falls from height
* 200 children. Mainly road traffic accidents and falls from height
* 250 pedestrians involved with vehicles
* 190 stabbings
* 30 shootings
* 44 ‘one unders’

The Air Ambulance team have been involved in all major incidents over the past few years, including the train crashes at Cannon Street, Southall and Paddington, the Soho bomb, and the July 7th terrorist attacks. On July 7th 2005, the HEMS team carried out 26 missions using the helicopter and constant deployment of rapid response cars to deliver medical care and supplies to the scenes of the incidents. This was only possible because a meeting, attended by many current and former HEMS staff, was scheduled for the same day. 208 people were treated at the Royal London Hospital on that day.

The crew is usually 1 pilot, 1 co pilot, 1 doctor and 1 paramedic. There is sometimes an observer, who is a doctor or paramedic in training. The helicopter can carry two patients on stretchers. However, because the nature of patients transported by HEMS, the team typically only transport one critically ill patient.

On arrival at the Royal London Hospital helipad, specialist ground crew receive the patient and a dedicated, express elevator carries the patient to the A&E department on the ground floor where a Trauma Team with A&E doctors, general surgeons, specialist surgeons and anaesthatists will be assembled to assess and treat them.

The service was featured heavily in the early series of the BBC TV series Trauma.

The HEMS Clinical Director is Dr Gareth Davies. He, along with other members of the team helps to run London's Air Ambulance. Gareth is also an Accident & Emergency and Pre-hospital Care Consultant working at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel and regularly flies in the helicopter to the scenes of accidents.

Dr Davies has been responsible for many innovations in pre-hospital care such as the Physician Response Unit (PRU) which brings the doctor to the patient in their home, preventing an unnecessary waste of ambulance resources. The PRU also operates from the Royal London Hospital in a rapid response car.

ee also

Other emergency medical services

* London Ambulance Service
* Royal London Hospital
* Air ambulance
* International SOS, Provider of air ambulance evacuation & repatriation services

Other emergency services

* HM Coastguard
* London Fire Brigade
* Metropolitan Police

External links

* [ Official website]
* [ Official Blog]
* [] - The Association of Air Ambulance Charities

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