Since its launch the Air Ambulance NI has been available for 97.2% of its operational hours, exceeding UK best practice across other UK services, a new report has revealed.
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) and the charity Air Ambulance Northern Ireland (AANI), have jointly issued a Spring Review Report of the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service, revealing positive progress in meeting the objective to deliver a doctor/ paramedic service as a partnership.
The report reviews the performance of the service against agreed objectives, service quality standards and targets benchmarked against the Association of Air Ambulances (AAA) framework for a High Performing Air Ambulance Service.
The primary role of HEMS, which went live at the end of July 2017, is to deliver advanced pre-hospital care, benefitting those whose lives are at risk following serious trauma by bringing highly specialised medical care directly to the patient at the scene.
Up until the end of March 2018, the air ambulance has responded to 297 calls - approximately 1-2 cases per day. Most of the responses to incidents are by air in the helicopter but the HEMS team also has a rapid response car for times when the helicopter is not able to fly due to weather conditions etc., or the incident is in close proximity to their base.
The report reveals that 80.7% of incidents were reached by the air ambulance within 20 minutes. The service responds to severely ill or injured patients and operates a daylight service from 7am -7pm, seven days per week from its base in Lisburn. It aims to reach any part of Northern Ireland in approximately thirty minutes.
Overall the helicopter has been available for 97.2% of its operational hours, exceeding UK best practice across other UK services whereby air operations should be available for 91% of the operational hours.
Commenting on the report, NIAS Chief Executive, Michael Bloomfield, said: “NIAS has been working together with our charity partner, Air Ambulance NI, to deliver this doctor/paramedic helicopter emergency medical service.
“We welcome the opportunity to publish this first report detailing the excellent progress the service has made in the first nine months since it was established.
“This is thanks to the dedicated team of doctors and paramedics providing the medical service and the charity staff who continue to work on supporting the service through their fundraising efforts and engagement of hundreds of volunteers in the background to provide the helicopters and pilots.
“Together we will continue to ensure that this vital service delivers the highest quality in patient care for those in the pre-hospital emergency environment and we are excited and proud to be part of such an important service which is saving lives.”
Air Ambulance NI needs to raise £2million each year to maintain this service so funding and public donations are crucial. As a new charity, AANI set out an ambitious objective to raise £1million in the first 22 months to match grant funding. Public support has meant that this target has been reached more quickly than expected, although there is still a long way to go to ensure the £1m is doubled to £2m and that it can be achieved annually and consistently.
Based on the fundraising performance in year one, the charity is confident that, with continued and further support from the public, it will raise enough funds by year three to fully fund year four costs for the first time.
Ian Crowe, Chairman, for the charity, commented: “As Air Ambulance NI approaches its first year of operational service for the citizens and visitors of Northern Ireland, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our operational partners NIAS, especially our Doctors and Paramedics, for their professional commitment not only during their duty shift but for the support and promotion of the charity through this time.
“Our aviation providers Babcock MCS have maintained a high level of aircraft availability and working closely with them, this level of consistency will be improved.
“The AANI charity team are looking forward to increasing the awareness for the charity in the coming months and years with public engagement and community events growing every week. AANI is establishing itself as a charity worthy of support and one of the easiest ways to do this is by becoming a member of Club AANI at www.airambulanceni.org”