Cornwall Air Ambulance flew to the aid of 710 patients throughout the county during 2015.
While one in four emergencies were cardiac related, the medical helicopter service attended 410 patients with illness and 276 with injury. 91 patients had suffered serious falls, 81 had been involved in road traffic collisions and the paramedic crew aided 76 babies and children.
On average the busiest days for the air ambulance were Tuesdays and Thursdays and the most common time of day to be called upon was between 1 and 2pm.
Last year Cornwall Air Ambulance visited the Isles of Scilly more than any other area of the county. A total of 38 patients were air lifted from St Mary’s to a hospital on the mainland while six more were lifted from Tresco.
The three areas of the county that saw the next most airborne missions were Launceston, Bodmin and Wadebridge, since north and south east Cornwall are remote from hospitals and often difficult to access by land ambulance. Each area saw 16 missions.
Throughout the year 276 patients were air lifted to the Royal Cornwall Hospital at Treliske, 104 to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, 66 were taken to North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple, three to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, three to the Bristol Royal Infirmary and one was flown to the Morriston Hospital in Wales.
One of the patients flown to the Royal Cornwall Hospital at Treliske was two year old Rosanna who was staying with her family in Rock during October.
Her father Tom said: “I found my two year old daughter unconscious, having fallen from a top bunk bed. It was by a long way the most frightening thing I have experienced in my life. Thankfully she was still alive and after a minute or two I brought her round and established that she wasn’t paralysed either.
“Nonetheless, there seemed to be something very wrong and so I called the ambulance service. What happened next came as a surprise – because the nearest ambulance was too far away and, I guess, the risk level was considered high enough, I was informed that the air ambulance was being sent. The helicopter arrived incredibly quickly, no more than 10 minutes after the operator told me this decision had been made. They landed on the beach and two paramedics jogged up to the house, asking me a few questions along the way.
“We want you to know how grateful we are to all the people involved in this event for taking such exceptional care of our daughter. At all times each member of your team was calm, gentle and clear with what they were doing. The high level of training and their skills and talent were self-evident – they were all extremely impressive. Their professionalism and attitude were second to none and each and every person did a fantastic job.”
Rosanna’s mother accompanied her daughter in the air ambulance and it took just ten minutes to reach the Royal Cornwall Hospital. Happily Rosanna made a full recovery.
Paula Martin, the chief executive officer of Cornwall Air Ambulance, said: “It takes Cornwall Air Ambulance an average of just 12 minutes to reach a patient in Cornwall and 28 minutes to reach patients on the isles of Scilly. Being able to fly patients to the hospital most appropriate to their needs saves lives by saving valuable transport time.
“It is thanks to our generous and loyal supporters that we can help people in their hour of need. We fly them to the hospital that best suits their needs as fast and efficiently as we can, providing first class critical care to them every second of the journey. Thank you to all those who enable us to provide this lifesaving service.”
Last spring Cornwall Air Ambulance launched two new rapid response vehicles (RRVs) to enable the paramedic crew to attend emergencies even when bad weather prevents the helicopters from flying. Since April the RRVs attended 94 patients around the county.
Cornwall Air Ambulance costs £3 million per year to operate. With no direct government funding, the charity relies on the generosity of the people and businesses of Cornwall.