Meet the pilots

THE pilots at Wiltshire Air Ambulance are highly trained and able to operate the helicopter in demanding situations day and night.

Landing the helicopter in a confined space, such as a field or a road, to enlisting the help of the public so the paramedics can overcome obstacles such as scaling fences and bridging streams to get to their patient and back to the helicopter, is all part of the job for the pilots.

Another essential component of their professional toolkit is their communication and social skills, as they interact with patients, their relatives and friends and also help the charity with fundraising events.

Chief pilot George Lawrence, who has worked at Wiltshire Air Ambulance for 15 years, says: “All the pilots at Wiltshire Air Ambulance are proud to work here and provide this valuable service, it’s a massively rewarding job.

"But we couldn’t do it without people fundraising and we find it humbling to meet patients and members of the public who have raised money to keep Wiltshire Air Ambulance flying.”

Meeting patients they have flown who have recovered after being critically injured or ill is particularly satisfying.

Nicky Smith, who has been a pilot at Wiltshire Air Ambulance for two years, says: “When you meet a patient who a year ago was seriously injured and now they are virtually on the way to recovery, really makes our job worthwhile.

“We were part of that process – that’s a really incredible experience.

"When you bring extraordinary skills and passion together, you can make such a difference to people whose outcomes are not looking very good at all.”

Meet the paramedics

THE paramedics on Wiltshire Air Ambulance are trained in critical care skills and together with the specialist medical equipment they use, enables them to deliver gold standard medical care.

The critical care skills they have mean they can treat patients who have suffered serious trauma injuries and medical emergencies – such as road traffic collisions and cardiac arrests - by giving additional drugs for advanced pain relief and sedation and performing a number of advanced surgical procedures before they are taken to hospital.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance also has blood on board so its critical care paramedics and doctors can give blood transfusions to seriously ill and injured patients. In the first 12 months of carrying blood the crews gave pre-hospital blood transfusions, on average, to three patients per month.

The specialist medical equipment (both on the helicopter and the rapid response car) and the critical care skills are funded by donations to the charity.

Critical care paramedic Richard Miller has worked at Wiltshire Air Ambulance for 15 years and he leads the team of paramedics.

He says: “Thanks to the fundraising by the charity, the additional skills we have can mean the difference between life or death.

“In my time at Wiltshire Air Ambulance pre-hospital care has developed massively. When I started here the focus was on ‘swoop and scoop’, picking patients up and getting them to hospital quickly on the aircraft.

“Now we can spend considerable time at the scene of an incident giving advanced care to patients before they are taken to hospital.

“The latest innovation we have introduced is carrying blood on board.

“Being able to give blood transfusions at the scene of an incident gives us extra vital minutes to get patients to hospital for them to receive further emergency care.

“It’s lovely to receive a thank you letter from a patient or for them to visit us. It’s nice to see them after or during their recovery.”