THE WALES AIR AMBULANCE CHARITY has thanked the public for its support, which has enabled them to attend 3,544 life and limb-threatening emergencies in 2021.
The total number of missions undertaken since the Charity’s inception in 2001 stands at over 41,000.
The Charity, which is celebrating its 20 th anniversary, received 3,544 calls during 2021. 1870 of the calls attended were by air and 1674 by road in one of its Rapid Response Vehicles. 1540 of the incidents were medical-related while the remaining 2004 were linked to trauma. Further analysis reveals 372 patients treated were 17 years old or under.
Wales Air Ambulance offers advanced critical care and is often described as a ‘Flying ED’.
The on-board consultants and critical care practitioners are highly skilled and carry some of the most pioneering medical equipment in the world. They can deliver blood transfusions, administer anaesthesia, and undertake emergency operations at the scene of the incident, before flying the patient directly to specialist care.
The service also undertakes time-critical transfers between hospitals when a patient needs urgent specialist care in a different healthcare facility. This is supported by our dedicated Helicopter Transfer Practitioners.
Now operational 24/7, the Charity needs to raise £8 million every year to keep the helicopters in the air and our Rapid Response Vehicles on the road.
Dr Sue Barnes, Wales Air Ambulance Chief Executive, said: “The support that our Charity receives is incredible. From everyone who raises money for us, to our army of volunteers – they are all lifesavers. I would also like to thank our Trustees, Charity colleagues, partners, medics and pilots for their passion, determination and dedication to the people of our country, and our focus on serving Wales and saving lives. On 3,544 occasions last year we were able to attend life or limb-threatening emergencies and that was only possible thanks to everybody I have mentioned. Thank you so much.”
While the helicopter operation is supported by the people of Wales through charitable donations to the Wales Air Ambulance, the medical capability on board the aircraft is delivered thanks to a unique Third Sector-Public Sector partnership between the Charity, Welsh Government and NHS Wales.
In place since 2015, this collaboration resulted in the creation of the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS Cymru). Professor David Lockey, EMRTS Cymru National Director, said: “Last year was a challenge for everyone as COVID-19 continued to impact on our service and our people. Nevertheless, despite those challenges, we were able to continue our lifesaving work – as we have done throughout the pandemic. The reason for this is the commitment shown by everyone connected to the service and the people of Wales, for which I cannot thank you all enough.”
One of the first patients airlifted by the Charity after becoming a 24/7 service was dad-of-three Dai Davies. Medics were called out to Dai’s home in Pembrokeshire after he suffered a cardiac arrest, whilst getting ready for bed, in February 2021.
A Pembrokeshire dad-of-three has thanked the emergency services that helped save his life.
In February 2021, Dai Davies was getting ready for bed when he suddenly collapsed and had a cardiac arrest.
Dai’s wife Taryan and son Caleb, 18, helped save his life as they performed CPR whilst waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
When the paramedics arrived, Dai’s heart was in an abnormal rhythm and not beating normally. The paramedics took over resuscitation, delivered two shocks and the second shock brought his heart back into a normal rhythm.
When the Wales Air Ambulance Charity helicopter arrived with its overnight critical care team – Dr Matt O’Meara, Critical Care Practitioner Marc Allen, and pilot Nobby Norris – Dai started to come around and became agitated and wasn’t breathing effectively.
They rapidly assessed him and found his oxygen levels were low and needed to take over his breathing. To do this they gave him a general anaesthetic and then placed him on a ventilator to breathe for him.
The procedure is delicate, complex, and time-critical. It is only possible outside of a hospital environment through the Wales Air Ambulance and the fact that they have experienced consultants on board.
It is one of the many emergency department-standard treatments that the Charity is now able to deliver at the scene of an incident – improving the chances of survival and recovery.
Once the on-scene treatment was complete, Dai was airlifted directly to the cardiac centre at Morriston Hospital in Swansea.
The flight from his home in Neyland to hospital took just 25 minutes by air, a journey that would have taken approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes by road.
Speaking of the lifesaving service, Dai said: “I am forever grateful to the ambulance service and the Wales Air Ambulance for the work they did and to get me to the hospital as quickly as they did. I really appreciate everything they’ve done for me. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.”
The father-of-three was a keen runner and cyclist before he was taken ill, reflecting on whether there were any signs that could have indicated a potential problem, Dai said: “I had a pain in my back whilst I was refereeing a match about five years ago. I had MRI scans and physiotherapy and continued to live with the on-off pain. Since it happened, I’ve been reading up on cardiac arrests and these symptoms were a big indicator.”
The learning support assistant, at Haverfordwest High School, underwent surgery to have three stents put in and was discharged from hospital a few days later.
He said: “I’m feeling okay. I’ve had three stents put in, lost 10 kilograms in weight through cardiac rehab and cut out all the nice things. My wife has also bought me a new Peloton bike to continue my fitness at home. My children, Chloe, Caleb and Aidan, all notice a change in me since the cardiac arrest, they think I’m more placid now.”
Throughout his recovery, Dai received expert guidance and help by having personal training from cardiac rehabilitation instructor Dave Braithwaite. Dai is now looking forward to the future.
Jo Yeoman is a patient liaison nurse who works in partnership with the Wales Air Ambulance Charity. She said: “We are delighted to see that Dai is on the road to recovery. Dai’s story demonstrates the vital chain of survival, from CPR, defibrillation, and then critical care.
Taryan and Caleb were incredible and the partnership work between the Wales Air Ambulance and Welsh Ambulance Service medics ensured that Dai had the best possible care before reaching the specialists at Morriston Hospital.
“Dai’s story highlights the importance of having an air ambulance service that runs during the night as well as the day.”
Christian Newman, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Locality Manager in Pembrokeshire, said: “In a cardiac arrest, every second counts, and the CPR started by Dai’s wife and son gave him the best possible chance of survival. Our joint efforts with Wales Air Ambulance colleagues, and later the care that Dai had from the specialists at Morriston Hospital, just goes to show how important partnership working is to a patient’s care. We wish Dai all the very best on his continued recovery.”
There are several ways that the public can continue to support the Wales Air Ambulance Charity. These include online donations, signing up to the Charity’s Lifesaving Lottery or by coming up with innovative ways to fundraise. Further information can be found via www.walesairambulance.com.
Alternatively, a £5 text-message donation can be made by texting the word HELI to 70711.