Statement Concerning COVID-19

6 November, 2020

Message from our CEO, Alex Lochrane.

6 November 2020

Further to the Prime Minister’s announcement, Saturday 31/10, of a second lockdown to be implemented in England from 0001 on Thursday 5 Nov, I want to update you as to the impact this will have on operations in your Air Ambulance, both clinical and charity.

Operations

Firstly, to reassure you: we continue to maintain a critical care service 19 hours a day, seven days a week, by both aircraft and car. Throughout this pandemic, the teams have continued to operate successfully, innovating and evolving our operational capability in collaboration with our key partners including University Hospital Southampton (UHS), the RAF and HM Coastguard Search and Rescue. They have gained considerable experience of operating in full PPE and in unfamiliar environments, alongside colleagues from South Central Ambulance Service, to bring life-saving care to people in Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and further afield when called upon. This will continue and, moreover, recent key appointments to our team of critical care paramedics will add both resilience and significant critical care leadership experience. Also, although the teams remain ready to step up, at the moment there are no plans to deploy our critical care paramedics into UHS Emergency Department, as we did during the first pandemic wave in the Spring, but this is being kept under constant review.

Charitable activities

Turning now to charitable activities and, in particular, fundraising and administration undertaken at the HIOWAA offices at Oriana Way: we are trying to maintain ‘Busines as Usual’ as much as possible. We were all humbled by the swell of support received from across our communities during the Summer, and we want to try and maintain those links as strongly as possible over the Winter. To this end, apart from some specific activities that have to be undertaken in the office, all staff will be working from home and keeping in touch with you digitally. There is no intention, at this stage, to place any staff on Furlough leave. Whilst our Fundraisers will continue to operate digitally and remotely, sadly our Lottery teams will have to stop the activities they had only just recommenced and so, if you are able to support us in any way, please do so by visiting our website: thank you so much.

Our offices in Nursling will be closed to all visitors and the only activity taking place there will be in preparation for our forthcoming move to new offices at Adanac North, when our current lease expires just after Christmas. We will still, however, be sorting post and so will be able to keep in touch with you that way and any donations received in the post will, of course, be very welcome and will receive a thank you letter in reply.

Please do keep up to date with your Air Ambulance’s activity on social media and on our website, and in particular with our Christmas Appeal that is due to launch Monday 9 November. Beyond this: please stay safe; stay at home; protect the NHS and save lives.

Thank you again so much for your support and if you are able to donate today, please click here.

 

20 April 2020

As we all grit our teeth and try to look forward in this second phase of national lockdown, I want to reassure you that we are maintaining a full critical care service, both in the air and on the road, because it is clear that we are still needed. It is difficult to find the words to adequately express my deepest gratitude to all you amazingly generous folk who have continued to support us and donate through these anxious and stressful times: we just could not do what we do without you. If you are able to donate something, no matter how small, please do so here and thank you.

Last week, we were called out to 15 emergencies, including six over the Easter weekend, across the region. Our strong partnership with University Hospital Southampton means our Critical Care Teams are able to attend incidents in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), to minimise the risk of infection when they arrive on scene. Working very closely with their road paramedic colleagues from South Central Ambulance Service, each member of our Critical Care Team has been dedicated to remaining on the front-line, providing critical care to our community throughout this pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on many heroes around the country, and last week we highlighted some of our own heroes as we shared the news that Specialist Critical Care Paramedics from our Critical Care Team have volunteered to work extra shifts in the Emergency Department at University Hospital Southampton: read more here.

We also announced that we are one of the first Air Ambulance services to collaborate with the Royal Air Force, to carry critically ill patients from more remote areas to major trauma centres, including The Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel Centre, London. Read more here about how members of our Critical Care Team are now at two hours’ notice to fly on board military Chinook helicopters to provide life-saving care to those who need us most.

Like so many charities struggling to keep their services going, we have had to stop all fundraising and community outreach activities and, as a result, we are expecting to see a significant drop in income. Because of this, we have made the difficult decision to place a number of our charity team on Furlough Leave. This was a tough decision but our priority is, and always will be, saving lives in our community and this is a step that I feel will make a very important difference in reducing our expenditure at a time when our income is so uncertain. By placing some members of staff on Furlough Leave, we are also able to retain our highly skilled team so that, when the current lockdown ends, we are confident we can hit the ground running again.

Closing on a really positive note, while our main fundraising events are on hold until further notice, we have seen some incredibly innovative, thoughtful and generous ways in which our supporters have continued to raise much needed funds for us. For everyone who has taken part in our virtual quiz, sent in winning scratch cards or donated money saved from your commute: thank you so very, very much: you are keeping us on the front-line, saving lives.

Please stay safe; stay at home; protect the NHS and save lives. Thank you again for your support and if you are able to donate today, please click here.

 

31 March 2020

As we enter week two of the national lockdown, we – like many charities – are working as hard as we can to keep pace with the changes in our Nation’s effort to combat CoVid-19. In parallel, our Critical Care Teams have been tireless in their commitment to adapt our operating procedures in response to the constantly changing guidance, as we learn more about the virus.

Subject to the needs of patients in hospital, and of supporting our colleagues in the NHS, we are confident that the Air and Road responses provided by your charity will remain online, and this situation is being kept under constant review. Our clinical teams are working closely and continuously with our key partners at University Hospital Southampton and South Central Ambulance Service to both sustain and adapt the service we provide to our communities, and also to take all the appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of our patients, our Critical Care Teams and our Pilots.

Following the Government announcement of 25th March, we took the difficult decision to close our Charity offices until further notice. Additionally, we have decided to postpone all charity events until the end of June and, during this very difficult period, we would ask all our supporters to, please: Stay at Home; Protect the NHS; Save Lives; this is undoubtedly the best way you can continue to support your Air Ambulance. Our events schedule is under constant review and we will update the website as soon as anything changes. All charity staff are now working from home and can be reached by phone or email, as normal. If you have raised funds for us: thank you so much and we are still able to receive cheques through the post. Alternatively, if you feel able to donate, you can donate online here. Every little thing you can do will be a big help!

Thank you for helping us to continue to save lives through this difficult time, and a particular thank you for keeping our teams of paramedics, doctors and pilots smiling with your wonderful messages of love and support. We know it is incredibly difficult and uncertain for everyone at the moment but with your support, when you are able to offer it again, your Air Ambulance will continue to be there when you need us most.

Please look after yourselves and, remember: Stay at Home; Protect the NHS; Save Lives.

 

18 March 2020

One of our Values is Openness and I am going to start by saying that the next few months are going to be very tough. Combatting CoVid-19 will test all of us in society and none more so than those in the front-line providing care. As your Air Ambulance charity, I want to reassure you, however, that we are doing everything we can – as quickly and safely as we can – to adapt our procedures in order to continue providing the best possible pre-hospital critical care service to those who need us most. Working closely with our key partners University Hospital Southampton and South Central Ambulance Service, we continue to carefully monitor developments with regard to the CoVid-19 virus, taking all appropriate precautions to protect the safety of our patients and our Critical Care Teams at the scene of every emergency that we attend.

In line with recent Government advice to assist with the Delay phase of combatting this virus, over the past 48 hours we have decided to postpone any public engagement events until the end of April 2020. This includes our 5km/1km Frenches Farm Trail Run on April 25th and our 2020 Annual Volunteers Conference. Both events will be re-scheduled, and we will be in touch as soon as we have new dates confirmed. We have also postponed all talks, school visits and community outreach events, and I would ask all our supporters and those whom we had planned to visit, to please keep in touch with us in order that we can plan collaboratively to restart events as soon as it is safe to do so. Personally, I am very disappointed to have had to postpone these events, but I am certain that it is the right action for us to take at this time. I am also very keen to ensure that where we can we maintain strong and reassuring links with our communities; whilst we might drop a little ‘out of sight’, I want to do everything I can to keep us ‘in mind’.

All of our staff are fully able to work remotely and will stay in touch with you: our vital supporters. If you have raised funds for us: thank you so much and we are still able to receive cheques through the post. Alternatively, if you feel able to donate, you can donate online here.

I will update this statement and social media on a regular basis but, for now, a heartfelt thank you for your continued support during these difficult times.

 

13 March 2020

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, in close partnership with University Hospital Southampton, continues to closely monitor developments with respect to the CoVid-19 virus and we remain committed to maintaining a pre-hospital critical care response during the outbreak. Appropriate precautions will be taken at scene to protect ourselves and our patients. When/if CoVid-19 becomes more endemic we will adjust our practice to fit the scenario as it develops. We have plans in place to cope with a temporary shortfall in staffing levels and will adjust our clinical model as is necessary to maintain a safe and effective critical care response.

As of 13th March 2020, there has been no official advice about mass participation events and whether they can continue to take place, or not. We will provide updates via the Charity website and social media pages as and when new guidance becomes available.

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