How are we tasked?
From an initial 999 call to Cornwall Air Ambulance landing in a patient’s garden, on a cricket pitch or a beach, follow the journey below - on average it takes just 12 minutes.
Emergency phone call
A person calls 999 and this puts them in touch with a call handler at the South West Ambulance Service HQ in Exeter.
The emergency operator
They take basic details such as patient condition and location and then logs the call.
Emergency severity analysis
The call is ranked as Green
(non-emergency), Amber (emergency but not life threatening) or Red (life threatening emergency, e.g. heart attack, stroke, serious RTC)
First rapid response
A dispatcher immediately tasks the nearest road ambulance, Rapid Response Vehicle or First Responder to the incident.
The HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) Dispatcher is watching over each log and it’s their job to task the southwest air ambulances.
They assess all Amber and Red calls to see if they may be suitable for an air ambulance response.
They look at:
- Patient condition (are they time critical)
- Patient location (how easy will it be for a land ambulance to reach the patient)
- Where is the patient likely to need to go? If a specialist hospital (e.g. Bristol Children’s/Swansea Burns they may task an air ambulance)
Cornwall Air Ambulance notification
If an air ambulance is required, HEMS Dispatcher calls the ‘red phone’ at Cornwall Air Ambulance airbase in Newquay.
Crew on standby
The crew is on standby 19 hours a day.
The paramedic takes the call noting patient condition, location and any other vital information.
Meanwhile the other paramedic and pilot go out to helicopter and start up.
Helicopter journey to incident
From here the helicopter can be in the air within three minutes. It flies at approx. 140mph which is approx two miles per minute.
From the scene Cornwall Air Ambulance can fly to Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, Southampton Children’s Cardiac Unit or Morriston Burns Unit in Swansea.
Average response time
We are on scene in an average of 12 minutes and can be in the Isles of Scilly in just 28 minutes.