On Wednesday 11 November the new H145 helicopter was introduced into service and ready to bring emergency medical care to patients across Devon.
As the hangar doors were rolled back, the Devon Air Ambulance crew readied the H145 for the first day of its lifesaving service. Although just like the start of a typical day shift at the Exeter airbase, this morning’s routine nonetheless marked the culmination of years of careful financial and operational planning by the organisation to develop an aircraft that would best serve its patients’ needs for many years to come.
“The Airbus H145 provides an exciting addition to our operational capacity,” said Flight Operations Director Ian Payne as he explained some of the differences it would bring to the enhanced and critical care Devon Air Ambulance provides.
“This new aircraft has a bigger airframe than our previous helicopter and that means we have increased space onboard and a larger medical compartment to treat and convey a patient. Added to that, we have designed our own medical fit-out which includes a unique seating configuration where up to three clinicians can all access a patient, when on the ground or in flight, with their equipment and monitors laid out in a systematic way and all within easy reach.
“The bespoke medical interior of the H145 also includes a new single stretcher system to ease the transfer of a patient from the scene of the incident, into our aircraft and then into the hospital A&E making the journey more comfortable for the patient.”
Devon Air Ambulance teams will utilise the additional space on board the H145 to carry more medical equipment to the scene of an incident as well as seat more people so that, even when operating with a team of three clinicians (when the crew composition is a doctor alongside two paramedics), there is still seating space for a parent/guardian or trainee clinician or pilot.
The new H145 will be based at Exeter airport and the existing EC135 helicopter is based out of the Eaglescott airbase near Torrington and together both will be providing up to 19 hours’ service, operating until 2am every day, seven days a week.
Heléna Holt, Chief Executive of Devon Air Ambulance, said: “The introduction of the new H145 into service is great news for the people of Devon and underlines our ambition to provide the best possible service for critically ill or injured patients.
All our supporters should be really proud of how they have helped us to plan and deliver these long-term strategic developments to their service and we look forward to the day we can meet our supporters once again to thank them in person.”
Like so many charities, Devon Air Ambulance continues to face significant challenges in fundraising due to the continued impact of the pandemic on charity retail and community fundraising. Whilst the charity is working hard to develop new and innovative ways to generate the income to maintain services at a time when demand has continued to increase, they are encouraging their supporters to consider regular giving, joining their lottery and shopping online with Devon Air Ambulance.