We are incredibly lucky here in Swindon to live just a few miles from beautiful countryside.

Being based in the north of Wiltshire, it is easy to forget how big our county is.

In fact a quick search of Wikipedia revealed it actually has an area of more than 1,300 square miles.

It is therefore reassuring that we have an extra emergency service who will come to our aid in minutes no matter where we are in Wiltshire.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance was first formed 30 years ago by way of a partnership between Wiltshire Air Ambulance Service NHS Trust and Wiltshire Police. The service used a joint helicopter and was based in Devizes at police headquarters.

In recent years it has been run by registered charity Wiltshire Air Ambulance Charitable Trust and, following a fundraising campaign, it moved into its new airbase and headquarters in Outmarsh, Semington.

I was delighted to recently receive a tour of the charity’s base and find out a bit more about its lifesaving work.

The service’s paramedics are trained in critical care skills and their specialist equipment allows them to provide top class care to the patients who require their help.

You may be surprised to learn that Wiltshire Air Ambulance receives no government funding and does not benefit from any Lottery funding.

It relies solely on the generosity of donors and needs £3.75m a year just to keep it running – a whopping £10,000 a day.

Operating up to 19 hours a day, every day, the air ambulance is called out to an average of three incidents a day in its helicopter and two Rapid Response cars.

From its central base, the charity’s helicopter can reach anywhere in the county in just 11 minutes.

I was shown a missions map during my visit which highlights where in the county the air ambulance was called out to provide lifesaving help.

Of the 1,233 missions, the largest number of call-outs were to help people in our borough (224).

That is the equivalent of a call-out every two days.

Last year, almost a third of incidents were for cardiac emergencies, while nearly a fifth were for road traffic collisions.

I was delighted to learn that Wiltshire Air Ambulance is also running a special education programme for schools across the county in order to teach children valuable life skills from the basics of how to phone the emergency services through to carrying out CPR.

My cabinet colleague, Coun Russell Holland, is particularly keen to see more of our schools here in Swindon taking advantage of this excellent programme.

I would like to round off this week’s column by highlighting the outstanding fundraising efforts of the Rotary Club of Swindon Thamesdown who raised £18,000 for good causes, including rather topically, Wiltshire Air Ambulance.

It is donations such as these which are saving lives across Wiltshire.

If you would like to find out more about Wiltshire Air Ambulance or even make a donation visit: www.wiltshireairambulance.co.uk