Critical Care Car with two of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity's critical care paramedics, Mike Andrews (L) and Steven 'Mitch' Mitchell (R)
Critical Care Car with two of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity's critical care paramedics, Mike Andrews (L) and Steven 'Mitch' Mitchell (R)

Midlands Air Ambulance charity extends operational hours

Patients in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire are already benefitting as Midlands Air Ambulance Charity's southern critical care car is now operating into the night to meet increasing demand.

The charity has changed its operational hours so that its vital lifesaving car will now run until 2am, allowing the team to attend a greater number of critical emergencies. In the first month of operation, the advanced clinical team has responded to almost 30 medical and traumatic incidents between the extended operating hours of 8pm and 2am. Seven of these call outs were to serious incidents, demonstrating the direct need for the expertise of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity's two critical care paramedics on-board. The car was dispatched to a variety of incident types including road traffic collisions, accidental injuries, assaults and medical conditions.

Previously the rapid response vehicle, based at the charity's Strensham airbase in Worcestershire, ran between 8am and 8pm with one specialist critical care paramedic on-board. Following analysis of the times of calls where patients are in critical condition and could benefit from the advanced treatment, surgical skills, medicines and hospital-level equipment rapidly brought to scene, the service now operates its southern critical care car between 2pm and 2am with two critical care paramedics.

Ian Jones, clinical operations director for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, said: "We are committed to continuous improvement and delivering advanced patient care, which is why we constantly review patient data to ensure we provide the very best care to those who need it. When the research demonstrated that patients across Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire would potentially benefit from our expertise outside of our current operational hours, we knew we needed to adapt. This change of operating model has enabled us to attend those critically ill or injured via our southern critical care car beyond the times our air ambulance helicopters can fly."

Since April, the charity operates its lifesaving service 19 hours per day, rapidly bringing parts of the hospital to the patient in an average of just ten minutes. The operational day starts at 7am via helicopter from RAF Cosford in Shropshire and the central critical care car (covering Birmingham and the Black Country, at 8am via helicopters at the charity's Strensham airbase in Worcestershire and Tatenhill airbase in Staffordshire, from 10am via the northern critical care car (which covers Staffordshire and Shropshire) and at 2pm for the southern critical care car, covering Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, which is also based at Strensham.

The critical care cars carry the same advanced lifesaving equipment as the helicopters, such as hospital grade ventilators and a mechanical CPR machine, known as the Lucas device and advanced analgesic and sedative drugs not carried on NHS ambulances.

Ian continues: "The way our clinical team provides patient care continually evolves. Thirty years ago, when we were first founded, our aim was to take the patient to the most appropriate hospital as swiftly as possible with timely interventions to preserve life. Fast forward to today and we aim to bring critical care rapidly to the patient, giving them the best possible chance of survival and good recovery before we leave the incident scene.

"We can deliver this exceptional care via helicopter or critical care car and we are proud to extend our availability into the night, which is already proving to be an effective service within the southern counties we cover."

Find out more about Midlands Air Ambulance Charity and its fleet of three air ambulance helicopters and three critical care cars via www.midlandsairambulance.com/missions and follow the organisation on social media.

Who are Midlands Air Ambulance?

Midlands Air Ambulance Charity serves the largest air ambulance region in the UK. This includes the communities of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands and Worcestershire; representing a population in excess of six million.

What does Midlands Air Ambulance do?

The charity responds to an average of 4,500 missions each year. They are a helicopter-led service with over 2,000 of deployments being air missions. Midlands Air Ambulance has a fleet of rapid response vehicles and two critical care cars. On average Midlands Air Ambulance Charity is one of the longest established and busiest air ambulance operators in the UK.

Time is critical

The sooner a patient receives enhanced pre-hospital emergency care on-scene, the greater their chances of survival and the better their outcome. Midlands Air Ambulance aim to bring that level of care to them, wherever they are, as soon as possible. In 2020/21 the average time to a patient was just ten minutes.

What does is cost to run Midlands Air Ambulance?

Each year it costs in excess of £10 million just to keep the three charity helicopters and two critical care cars operational. Each air ambulance mission costs £2,950 on average and each critical care car mission costs £288, which is entirely funded by the generosity of the general public and local businesses.