Busiest year on record for Devon Air Ambulance as more than 1,100 patients are seen to

PUBLISHED: 10:26 11 February 2019 | UPDATED: 10:26 11 February 2019

The Devon Air Ambulance.  Picture: KEVIN DOE PHOTOGRAPHY

The Devon Air Ambulance. Picture: KEVIN DOE PHOTOGRAPHY

Archant

More than 1,100 were helped by Devon Air Ambulance in 2018 – the busiest year on record for the life-saving charity.

Just less than half (49 per cent) of patients treated had experienced trauma – be it via a vehicle collision or accidental injuries, while the remainder were medical emergencies.

The DAA assisted 1,109 people in 2018, a year the charity has said is the busiest in its 27-year operation.

Heléna Holt, the charity’s chief executive officer, said: “Keeping the service airborne last year cost £7.5 million.

“Raising this amount to ensure the stability of the service is a huge task but being able to further extend our service to 2am really is testament to the fantastic supporters we have throughout Devon.”

Of the 1,109 patients helped last year, 70 were motorcyclists – a 20 per cent rise on 2017 - and 62 were involved in an equestrian-related incident. Such is the speedy response of DAA, 16 per cent of the mission the helicopter attended saw it first on the scene.

Nigel Hare, operations director for DAA, said: “We knew we had been busier, and in fact have helped an additional 119 patients in 2018.

“We are here for all ages and 121 of our missions – or 11 per cent - were to under-18s. We also attended two patients who were over 100!”

DAA says the busiest time of the day is between noon and 1pm, while the busiest day of the week is Friday.

The charity also found the most common trauma injury treated was to the head, closely followed by leg and chest injuries.

Earlier this year, DAA announced an extension to its operational hours, enabling it to access people up to 2am.

In November 2016 DAA extended the flying hours for its Exeter aircraft to midnight, after extensive research confirmed that just because it’s dark, it doesn’t mean people don’t have accidents or become ill.

DAA has submitted planning applications for a network of community landing sites approved, which will support its night-flying operations.

The DAA’s night landing sites across the Axe Valley and Honiton comprise the Peace Memorial Playing Field in Colyford, Honiton Rugby Club, Longmead Recreation Ground in Hemyock, Beer Football Club, Seaton Cricket Club, Kilmington Cricket Club, Axminster Town Football Club.

The charity is continuing to earmark more East Devon sites.

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