DEVON’S new air ambulance has already carried out twelve jobs in its first fortnight in service.
The new £4.5 million state-of-the-art helicopter, which is based at Eaglescott airfield near Umberleigh, replaces the G-DAAT aircraft, which was leased by the trust.
The new helicopter, which has the registration number G-DAAN, was paid for by donations to the Devon Air Ambulance Trust and is capable of flying from the north to the south coast of Devon in 20-25 minutes.
Since it went into official service on September 1, it has already made twelve missions including visits to North Devon and Cornwall.
On its first day in operation, the aircraft was scrambled to Welcombe after receiving reports an elderly man was suffering from shortness of breath.
It landed in a nearby field at around 2pm and the on-board paramedic treated the casualty. However it was then decided it would be better for him to be taken to hospital by land ambulance.
Later in the afternoon, the Eaglescott-based aircraft was called into action again. The crew were called to reports an elderly person was suffering from medical problems in Lifton, near Launceston. They collected the casualty at around 4.45pm and took them to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth before returning to base.
On September 4, the crew were called upon again following reports a woman had fallen from a horse in the Tiverton area. The helicopter landed at the scene shortly after 11.15am and flew the woman to Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (Wonford).
The following day, the aircraft was scrambled to reports of a toddler having a fit in Holsworthy. The crew left their North Devon base at 5.04pm and collected the casualty who was flown straight to North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple.
On September 7, the aircraft flew to Bude following reports a man had fallen from height. The helicopter was tasked to the incident and 9.01am and after collecting the casualty flew him directly to the trauma centre at Derriford Hospital.
After returning to base, the crew were called down to Bude again after a man started suffering from chest pain. The aircraft was scrambled at 3.12pm and the man was flown to North Devon District Hospital.
On September 9, the crew flew further afield to Tintagel in Cornwall. A young girl was fitting and, as the Cornwall Air Ambulance was already out on a job, the Devon aircraft was called upon. The helicopter collected the casualty shortly after 5.30pm and flew her to hospital.
It was another busy day for the crew on Wednesday, September 11. The crew were called to a man suffering cardiac problems in Bideford at around 1.33pm. He was flown to Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.
Later in the afternoon, the crew were called to Peppercombe Beach to reports a woman had injured her ankle. The on-board paramedic treated the casualty at the scene but due to the woman’s location it was decided she needed to be winched from the pebbly beach. A search and rescue crew from RMB Chivenor were called upon and, after winching the woman from the beach, flew her to North Devon District Hospital.
A short while later, the North Devon-based air ambulance was called to Winkleigh to reports a man was having breathing difficulties. The crew landed at the scene at around 5pm and flew the man to Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.
On September 14, the air ambulance landed on the A39 between Carhampton and Minehead in Somerset. An elderly female was trapped in the car and injured after the vehicle rolled. The aircraft landed at the scene at around 2.50pm and treated the casualty. However, her condition was stable and she was taken to hospital by land ambulance.
Later that day, the crew were called out again to Lydcott near Brayford.
The aircraft landed in a field at around 3.30pm to collect a man who had been injured in a quad bike accident. He was suffering from chest pain and was flown to North Devon District Hospital.
Heléna Holt, chief executive of Devon Air Ambulance Trust, is delighted the trust has been able to purchase the new aircraft.
She said: “I would like to take the opportunity to thank the community for their support of the Charity.
“This new wholly owned helicopter would not have been possible without the support of the county, including listeners of BBC Radio Devon who raised a staggering £850,000.”
“Owning both of our aircraft, rather than leasing, saves the Charity in the region of £25,000 a month.
“This will enable us to put the money saved to great use elsewhere including additional crew training and extension of flying hours into the night by 2017.”