Wiltshire Air Ambulance on stand-by over Christmas

By Ben Fitzgerald - 18 December 2019


While many people will be enjoying time off over the Christmas period, Wiltshire Air Ambulance will be operational and ready to respond to emergencies.

The lifesaving service operates up to 19 hours a day, all year round, thanks to the generous donations it  receives from its supporters.

Among the aircrew on duty on Christmas Day are critical care paramedic Jo Gilbert and pilot Nicky Smith.

Jo, who has worked at Wiltshire Air Ambulance for 14 years, said: “I hope on Christmas Day people in Wiltshire have a peaceful and happy time, but we will be ready to respond should we be needed.

“I celebrate Christmas with my family around my shifts. The airbase has Christmas decorations up and a Christmas tree so it does feel Christmassy. Our supporters are also very generous and gift us with nice chocolates and other food. We are very lucky to be thought of.” 

Nicky, who has worked at Wiltshire Air Ambulance for five years, said: “I’ve never minded working over Christmas; it’s a particularly rewarding time of the year to be involved with our lifesaving service. On Christmas Day once the helicopter is ready to fly and we’re mission ready we make the shift fun with plenty of Christmas cheer, including festive food and crackers.

“The best Christmas flying is where there’s snow on the ground and Wiltshire looks really pretty and wintery from the skies.

“Although we are always ready to respond, it is a time of the year when we most hope that our services won’t be needed and that everyone in Wiltshire has a very happy and healthy Christmas.”

Richard Miller, clinical services and ground base manager at the charity, said: “Our service operates every day so our pilots and specialist paramedics are ready to respond to emergency incidents, such as road traffic collisions, cardiac arrests and strokes, over the Christmas and New Year period.

“If our helicopter is unable to fly or it is quicker to reach an incident by road our paramedics use Rapid Response Vehicles (cars) and these have the same medical equipment that is onboard the helicopter. 

“We have seen increased demand on our service as in the first 11 months of this year we have undertaken 1,126 missions – that’s more than we did for the whole of 2018.

“We are only able to provide our essential Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) thanks to people, businesses and grant-making trusts who donate and fundraise for us.”

The charity is not funded directly by the Government and receives no National Lottery grants. It needs to raise £3.75 million each year to keep flying and provide its lifesaving service.

If you would like to donate online visit the website here - https://www.wiltshireairambulance.co.uk/donate/

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