Devon Air Ambulance steps up road transport service as helicopters remain grounded

A 4x4 vehicle used by Devon Air Ambulance. Picture: Devon Air Ambulance

A 4x4 vehicle used by Devon Air Ambulance. Picture: Devon Air Ambulance - Credit: Archant

Devon Air Ambulance is to start helping transport patients between hospitals by road this week, as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

he charity is currently unable to fly its helicopters because the paramedics cannot wear full personal protective equipment while in the air.

But it will be helping to transfer coronavirus patients to the hospital best placed to treat them, as well as moving hospital patients with other conditions who need specialist treatment in a different location.

This could mean taking some patients outside Devon if required.

Nigel Hare, the operations director of Devon Air Ambulance (DAA) said: “We have of course been monitoring the situation closely and reviewing daily within our Leadership Team.

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“Although we have temporarily suspended delivering our service by helicopter due to us not being permitted to wear full personal protective equipment in flight, and therefore not being able to safeguard the safety of our patients and staff, we continue to provide an enhanced pre-hospital service to the people of Devon by responding on our two critical care cars.

“We continue to operate from 7am through to 2am the following morning, with one car based in the north of the county and the other in the south.

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“While the universities are currently closed, we have also temporarily suspended our training and development activity enabling us to provide additional staff to support healthcare during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have therefore been liaising with the wider NHS, SWAST (South Western Ambulance Service Trust) and the South West Critical Care Network to identify ways the advanced clinical capabilities of our team can bring additional benefit to people across Devon.

“From this week, five of our critical care paramedics will be joining a multi-disciplinary team, alongside the South West Critical Care Network and SWAST, to provide a road based critical care transfer service to enable patients to be transported between hospitals so they can receive the most appropriate care for their needs.”

Heléna Holt, the chief executive officer of DAA said: “Although an independent service, we’re proud to be able to support the NHS in the fight against the coronavirus in Devon.

“We and our crews ask just one thing from the people of Devon. Please help protect our crews and their loved ones, as well as yourself and your loved ones and alleviate future pressures on the NHS by staying at home; please do your bit to reduce the pressure on these essential services.”

DAA is a charity and its operations are not funded by the Government. It is appealing for donations to help it continue its work during the pandemic; click here to donate.

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