18,000 missions and counting for Air Ambulance charity

The doctors, dispatchers, pilots and paramedics that make up the charity’s Critical Care Teams have responded to 18,000 missions via its helicopter and emergency response vehicles since its first flight in 2007.

The charity relies entirely on donations from the public to ensure it can bring its life-saving care to the most seriously ill and injured patients across the region.

The past 12 months

In 2023, the service responded to 1,842 missions (up 28 on the year prior) – its busiest year since before the Coronavirus pandemic (2019).

December had the most call-outs for the charity (187) for the second year running, in a year in which the majority of incidents involved cardiac arrest, road traffic collisions and medical emergencies, such as seizures. Other cases included falls from height, assaults and sporting incidents.

Patients from across the region were taken to hospitals including University Hospital Southampton, Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital, Isle of Wight’s St. Mary’s Hospital and Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital – they even ventured as far as Morriston Hospital, Wales.

Advancements in the service means that today the doctors and specialist paramedics on board can carry out procedures that are usually only found in a hospital setting, such as a thoracotomy – a surgical incision to the chest wall used to treat life-threatening conditions – or an amputation, all at the side of the road, in someone’s kitchen or a rural area.

A life saved

One of those patients was 19-year-old Louis Young from Southampton who sustained a series of devastating injuries when he came off his motorbike and hurtled through a barbed wire fence near Chandler’s Ford in June 2023.

A man sat on a motorbike

Louis had broken his femur and sustained a traumatic brain injury – time critical injuries. The wired fence had also ripped off the skin and muscle from above his knee down to his lower calf, exposing his blood vessels and nerves.

Louis was unstable and had lost a lot of blood. The doctor and paramedic team flew from their airbase in Thruxton, Andover. Upon arrival they sedated Louis and gave him an urgent blood transfusion.

Louis’ mum, Claire, who has raised almost £800 for the charity, said:

“The police called me at 6pm. I was hysterical. It’s the phone call no parent wants. I’ve donated regularly to Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance for many years but felt I needed to do something more, just to say thank you.”

The charity’s CEO, Richard Corbett, said:

“The patients we have treated in the last year and, indeed, the years before it, have potentially had their lives turned upside down as a result of their illness or injury. It is only thanks to our incredible supporters who help us raise millions of pounds each year that we are able to play a part in the treatment and recovery of those who need us most.”

To help the charity continue flying and saving lives, people can make a regular donation via www.hiowaa.org/donate