While many will be staying home and seeing their loved ones over Christmas, the doctors, paramedics, pilots and dispatch assistants at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance will be responding to life-threating emergencies across the region.
Last Christmas, the charity responded to 148 potentially life-saving callouts throughout December, including 10 over Christmas eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
One of those who will be working on Christmas Day is HEMS Paramedic Sophia Rozario, who has been treating seriously ill and injured people with the charity since 2019.
“We are usually very busy around Christmas time,” said Sophia.
“Sporting accidents are far fewer in number but, unfortunately, we do attend serious road traffic collisions, medical and self-harm incidents.
“It’s made me realise that Christmas can be a really tough time of year for some.”
Working over the Christmas period isn’t unusual for Sophia. And neither is having to fit her personal life around her or her family’s demanding work schedule.
“My mum is a nurse, so when I was a kid it was normal to have a belated Christmas Day. My fiancé is also a paramedic, so as long as we get a couple of days over the festive period together, I don’t mind which day we celebrate.”
Day and night, 365 days a year, the team are ready to bring the hospital to patients in need of urgent critical care – ready to give them the best chance of survival.
Dr Simon Hughes, who worked on the helicopter on Boxing Day last year, said, “If the phone or the radio goes, we try to get airborne in four minutes. So, if we are midway through a turkey sandwich or a Christmas pudding, you need to be able to put that down and run out the door extremely quickly.”
He added: “Traditionally, we think of people sitting down to eat their lunch, drinking wine and relaxing but, sadly, horrible things can still happen.”
Sophia, along with the rest of the team, is very aware that they can only respond to the most critically ill and severely injured people in the region because of the kindness and support from the public.
She said: “It is remarkable that our entire operation survives purely on people’s good will and generosity. It means we’re able to help people during one of the worst days of their lives and provide the interventions they need as soon as they need it.
“A huge thank you to everyone who donates – and also to those who come up and say kind words to the team when we are out and about: it’s very much appreciated.”
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance is a charity that relies entirely on the generosity from its supporters to keep flying and saving lives. The charity has so far responded to 1,621 emergency call-outs this year.
To donate, visit www.hiowaa.org/donate