Newly qualified Wiltshire Air Ambulance critical care paramedic Craig Wilkins is celebrating his promotion in both his and the service’s 30th year.
Craig was almost two months old when Wiltshire Air Ambulance began operating full time in March 1990 sharing a helicopter with Wiltshire Police. The charity became a stand-alone air ambulance using its own helicopter in January 2015.
Craig, who lives in Bath, has worked at Wiltshire Air Ambulance since July 2017 and said he is proud to be part of the team.
“I love working at Wiltshire Air Ambulance – it is my dream job. I’m very proud to achieve my ambition of qualifying as a critical care paramedic and to do it in my 30th year and Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s 30th year is really special. The service has saved a generation of people over the last 30 years and, along with my colleagues, I’m using my medical skills to help save the next generation,“ he said.
Craig met some of the former crew members of Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Wiltshire Police when they visited Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s airbase recently. Many of them served on the helicopter in the early 1990s.
Craig said: “It was such an honour to meet them. I was at nursery school when they were working on the shared helicopter!
“Regardless of the skill set and the change from having a joint helicopter to Wiltshire having its own air ambulance, the mindset is the same among the former and current crew. There is that underlying passion and drive to provide the best care to patients.
“Wiltshire Air Ambulance was formed because there was a clear need to provide pre-hospital emergency care to people who suffer life-threatening injury or illness and require rapid transport to hospital. Throughout its existence Wiltshire Air Ambulance has been progressive in how it delivers care to patients.”
As a specialist paramedic in critical care Craig can give advanced drugs for pain relief and sedation, give pre-hospital blood transfusions and carry out surgical interventions at the scene of medical and trauma emergencies.
He said: “Being a critical care paramedic opens up my scope of practice so I can provide a higher standard of care to patients. When I attend patients they are my world – they are my responsibility and I treat them as if they are my own family ensuring they receive the best possible care.”
Craig joined Wiltshire Air Ambulance when the aircrew and helicopter and the charity team were based on different sites. The following year both teams began working under the same roof when the charity’s purpose-built airbase, in Semington, near Melksham, opened.
Craig said: “Having a purpose-built airbase is so much better for everyone. Having both teams on one site has meant we have been able to get to know each other. Our understanding of how the charity works has increased and vice versa with the charity team understanding how the operational team works. This means that we work harder and support each other as a result.“
Wiltshire Air Ambulance relies on donations from the community, businesses and grant-making trusts to continue its lifesaving work.
Craig said: “Our volunteers are amazing people, giving up their time to spread the word about what we do and helping to fundraise. We are also really lucky to have so much support from people from all over Wiltshire, from all walks of life.
“Every penny in a collection tin is helping to fund Wiltshire Air Ambulance and I am very mindful that we are only able to do what we do thanks to everyone who fundraises or donates to the charity.”
Before he joined Wiltshire Air Ambulance Craig worked for six years as a land ambulance paramedic based at Bath Ambulance Station. He was also a learning development officer with South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, a role which included training emergency care assistants and paramedics.