Air Ambulance called to record number of incidents in 2020

By Barrie Hudson - 7 January 2021

  • Wiltshire Air Ambulance paramedics Richard Miller, left and Craig Wilkins

    Wiltshire Air Ambulance paramedics Richard Miller, left and Craig Wilkins

Wiltshire Air Ambulance was called on 1,238 missions in 2020 – a record number since the charity became a stand-alone air ambulance in 2015.

Despite two national lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic last year and now a third, the need for Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s lifesaving service has never been more crucial.

In Swindon, Wiltshire Air Ambulance was called to emergencies in the town a total of 194 times, more than once every two days. 

There were a further 39 incidents across Cricklade, Highworth and Royal Wootton Bassett.

David Philpott, chief executive of Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: “Our aircrew has continued to operate on the front line throughout the pandemic, responding to incidents during a very challenging year – and 2021 looks like being just as difficult.

“We had to alter our operations suitably to ensure we could still be there for the people of Wiltshire and surrounding areas.

“With all of our major events cancelled and community fundraising impacted by the pandemic, this has clearly had an effect on our income.

“That said, we have been taken aback by the response from our kind donors, who have surpassed all expectations for donations received in the past 12 months. For that, we are so grateful.”

Of the 1,238 missions last year, 568 were by helicopter and 670 were in the Rapid Response Vehicles (cars).

The largest number of call outs were to cardiac emergencies - 383 - almost one in three missions, while 208 were to road traffic collisions - around one in six missions and a drop of two percent on 2019 missions.  

The team were called to a greater number of falls - 178-  in 2020, up by four percent. The figures also include 71 medical collapses, 64 assaults and 64 sporting injuries, of which 34 were horse riding accidents.

A total of 108 incidents involved children, while more than one in three missions - 430 - took place at night.

There were eight calls to Amesbury, 19 Bradford-on-Avon, 32 to Calne, 79 Chippenham, 25 to Corsham, 57 to Devizes, 41 to Marlborough, 26 to Malmesbury, 60 to Melksham, one to Mere, eight to Pewsey, 96 to Salisbury, 10 to Tidworth, one to Tisbury, 66 to Trowbridge, 40 to Warminster and 28 to Westbury.\

Wiltshire Air Ambulance was also called to incidents in neighbouring counties, including Berkshire, Bristol, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Somerset, plus the Isle of Wight and Wales.

On 277 occasions the charity either airlifted or land assisted patients to hospital, including 65 to Great Western Hospital in Swindon.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance is a charity and receives no regular direct funding from the Government or National Lottery grants. Each year the charity needs to raise £3.75 million to continue flying and saving lives. 


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