A life-saving charity is celebrating nine years of missions to help patients when they need it most.
Wednesday, October 1, back in 2003 may not be a memorable day for many people, but for people living in the county it turned out to be a milestone day when the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (WNAA) flew its first ever rescue mission.
Nine years on and the local life-saving charity has gone on to attend more than 13,000 rescue missions and save countless lives across local communities.
From road accidents to horse riding incidents, heart attacks, sports injuries and many more, WNAA has been on hand to help ill and injured people get the treatment they need when they need it most.
The first ever rescue mission call-out came a little after 8.30am on October 1 in 2003 and saw the crew fly to Stratford-upon-Avon to treat a man who had fallen from his horse injuring his leg.
They treated the man and airlifted him to Warwick Hospital, before going on to fly three more rescue missions that day.
In the first three months of its existence, WNAA flew to 322 incidents, including five on Christmas Day in 2003.
Since then, WNAA has gone from strength to strength, teaming up with Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance (DLRAA) and The Children’s Air Ambulance (TCAA) at the end of 2011 to form The Air Ambulance Service (TAAS).
WNAA now works alongside its sister service DLRAA to ensure that people across all five counties and beyond have a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) during daylight hours.
Both services collaborate to provide high quality clinical skills and expertise at the scene of incidents and rapid transportation to hospitals which can provide the most suitable treatment for the patient.
The charity also runs a rapid response vehicle so that it can continue to provide its excellent pre-hospital treatment when the helicopter is unavailable.
On its ninth birthday today (Monday), WNAA was called out even earlier than on that very first day, flying to a road traffic collision between a HGV and a van on the A47, Leicestershire, at about 7.30am.
WNAA paramedics extricated the 64-year-old van driver, who was suffering from suspected abdominal and spinal injuries, before immobilising him and administering pain relief.
Out of all the incidents WNAA fly to about 50 per cent of them are road traffic accidents, about 10 per cent of them are equestrian-related and eight per cent are a result of sporting injuries.
However, incidents can be varied and WNAA’s philosophy is to fly to any incident where they can be of benefit to the patient - providing the very best possible care to sick and injured people across the counties.
The provision of WNAA ensures casualties are transferred to the hospital which has the facility to best treat their condition rather than to the nearest hospital, and WNAA’s highly trained crews also provide outstanding pre-hospital care at the roadside giving patients the best chance possible of making a full recovery.
Over the years, countless mums, dads, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and loved ones have been saved by the service, with many former patients visiting the airbase at Coventry Airport to express their gratitude to the crew which saved their life.
What makes the charity’s success even more remarkable is that every single one of the 13,530 rescue missions attended by WNAA has been funded entirely by public donations – as WNAA receives no Government or National Lottery funding.
WNAA airbase manager, Philippa Gibbs, who has been with the charity for seven of its nine years, said: “We really could not do the work we do without the tremendous support we receive from members of the public.
“Over the past nine years local communities have been incredibly generous towards us and we can’t express enough how much we appreciate their kind donations.
“Without such help our valuable lif-saving service would not exist so we really need people to keep on digging deep so that we can keep our helicopters in the skies.”
Anyone who would like to make a donation to WNAA can call 08454 130999 or visit www.wnaa.co.uk/donate.