20 minute read

Helimed News Winter 18/19

A Specialist Paramedic in Critical Care, a Paramedic training to become a full member of the team (see page 10) and a Critical Care Doctor, survey our new base

Welcome from our CEO Anna Perry

In July 2018 we launched our Buy Our Base appeal, after our landlords gave us the opportunity to buy Great Western Air Ambulance Charity’s new base in Almondsbury.

We realised that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and that if we purchased the base it would ensure that we could carry on our lifesaving work for the next generation. Raising £1.25m over just a few months was a huge undertaking for a small charity like GWAAC – we are the youngest air ambulance in England and Wales, although one of the busiest!

I am delighted to say that we achieved our objective – thanks to the dedication and unwavering support of people like you.

The generosity of local people, trusts and businesses in our region meant that in December 2018 we were able to go ahead and buy our new airbase, in our 10 th birthday year. You can read more about this huge milestone on pages 4 and 5.

The Buy Our Base appeal took up a lot of our time and energy, but our usual day to day fundraising and the operation of our service still needed to carry on regardless. We still need to raise over £3 million every year to keep our service running. So thank you to all our donors, volunteers, crew, staff and supporters who work tirelessly to make this happen – week after week, month after month, year after year – for 10 years now.

I hope you enjoy this edition of Helimed News – it celebrates what we have achieved in the last year, focuses on some of our team and the work they do, and explains some fun ways in which you can support us in 2019.

Best wishes,

Anna Perry, Chief Executive

Air Base Update – We’re in!

2018 was a monumental year for us here at GWAAC. Not only did we celebrate our 10 th birthday, and move into a purpose built air base in Almondsbury, we reached the fundraising target for our Buy Our Base appeal, and have completed on the purchase of the air base!

Thanks to the generous support of the local community, businesses and people like you we have exceeded our target, raising £1.3 million to go towards the final purchase and kit out costs.

Thanks to you, we have now secured our service for the future, ensuring that we have an air base that is fit for purpose and which enables us to continue to be there for you.

Over the coming months we’ll be hosting some open days, when members of the public can come and have a look round. To register your interest please email pr@gwaac.com with the subject line ‘Base visit’.

Meet our new Lead Doctor

Introducing Dr Ed Valentine, who took up the role of our Lead Doctor in September 2018.

Ed has been part of GWAAC’s Critical

Care Team for eight years. He is also a Consultant in Emergency Medicine at the Royal Gwent Hospital. When he joined our team, he had never worked in Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine before. He subsequently undertook formal training with London’s Air Ambulance and Essex and Herts Air Ambulance, before returning to GWAAC. He has been with the unit ever since.

The role of Lead Doctor involves working alongside John Wood, our Air Operations Officer, and Anna Perry, our Chief Executive, to lead the unit, co-ordinate activities and ensure that the team are continually achieving the highest standards. In addition, Ed is also responsible for delivering excellent patient care and managing, developing and training staff, including Critical Care Doctors, Specialist Paramedics and our ‘PHEM Trainees’ (read more about them on page 10).

The job takes up a significant amount of time and requires Ed to troubleshoot problems, attend meetings as part of the unit’s Senior Management Group and represent the Charity at a regional level within South Western Ambulance Service, as well as help develop and introduce new procedures and guidelines.

Speaking about his time working with GWAAC and his future ambitions for the Lead Doctor role, Ed said: “During my

time with GWAAC I have seen the service evolve from a very small team, operating for limited hours only and working from outdated and poor quality facilities, to a highly professional organisation that delivers cutting edge critical care to patients across the South West of England. Over the last few years I have also seen the introduction of innovative interventions such as pre-hospital blood product transfusion and pre-hospital ultrasound.

“Having just moved into our brand new, purpose built air base in South Gloucestershire, I am excited about the chance to lead GWAAC through the next phase in its history. We have a fantastic and inspiring team of clinicians and charity staff and it is an amazing opportunity to be able to take up a leadership position.”

Ed says that his favourite part of the Lead Doctor role is working alongside an amazing team. “All the clinicians and charity staff are dedicated, highly skilled and committed to seeing the service become the best it can possibly be. It is this team spirit and culture that makes coming to work each day an absolute pleasure, and it is a privilege to have the chance to lead the team.”

BRI helideck gets an update

It’s hard to believe, but GWAAC has been able to use the helideck at the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) for four years already.

The 25 square metre aluminium deck was put in place in May 2014 as part of a major transformation and centralisation project for the University Hospitals Bristol (UHB) Trust, and was partly made possible thanks to a grant from the HELP (Helicopter Emergency Landing Pads) Appeal.

Since then, we have been able to take patients directly to the BRI, the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children and the Bristol Heart Institute, taking around five minutes from touchdown to unloading the patient and getting them to the correct department in any of these linked hospitals.

Since it opened, we’ve landed on the helideck 208 times, including 54 times in 2018. It has enabled us to take children and adult patients to the best place for their needs after we have treated them at the scene of an incident. The helideck also allows us to pick-up our crew from jobs where the patient has come by road with our Critical Care Team on board the land ambulance.

Fast forward to today, and a new automated firefighting system has recently been launched at the helideck, which would be used if a fire occurred on an aircraft or the helideck itself. Funding for this integrated system was also given to the UHB Trust by the HELP Appeal, who are currently in the process of funding new lighting in order to make the helideck the leading onshore helideck in the country in terms of its technology and safety systems.

Andy Williams is responsible for supervising the helideck. Speaking of the new automated firefighting system and the difference it will make, he said: “The new DIFFS system can put out a fire very quickly indeed. They have been tested and generally put a fire out within 15 seconds.” Reassuring for everyone involved.


Mission Data: 2018 in numbers

In 2018 we were called to 1,887 incidents

1,260 using one of our critical care cars

627 using our helicopter

We need to raise over £3 million each year to stay operational, and receive no day to day funding from the Government or National Lottery

Type of mission

Where we workTrauma 26.1%

Other 5.7%

Cardiac Arrest 36.9%

North Somerset


Other areas 6.1%

Wiltshire 6.5%

Bath & North East Somerset 6.9%

Bristol 31.3%

RTC 20.9%

Other medical 10.4%

Gloucestershire 23.2%

South Gloucestershire 11.6%

It costs £2,000 to send one trainee on a major incident course

For every minute the rotor blades turn it costs £16

8 Helimed News Donate online at www.gwaac.com and support us on @GWAAC

CHALLENGES - The Great Wall of China

In September 2018, a team of six ladies completed GWAAC’s Great Wall of China challenge in seven and a half days.

Emma Carter from GWAAC’s charity team was joined by 5 others including Janet Adams, Mandy Bancroft, Bev Stamp and Sharon Moore for the trek, which saw the group walk between 20,000 and 30,000 steps a day and raise over £25,000 in the process!

The Great Wall of China was constructed over 2,000 years ago and is the longest wall in the world, spanning 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometres) from the Korean border in the west into the Gobi desert in the north.

Bev most enjoyed the team connection and the support she had as the group fundraised together and then completed their walk. She commented: “It was amazing to feel your achievement at the end of the walk! My advice for anyone wanting to take part in a similar challenge for GWAAC is to make a list of every type of fundraising you can think of and then get the diary out and plan!”

If you’d like to follow in the ladies’ footsteps and complete your own challenge of a lifetime to raise funds for GWAAC, why not join Team Kili and climb Mount Kilimanjaro in September 2019? To find out more or to sign up, email info@gwaac.com

Meet the New Recruits

As a highly regarded training unit, we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine (PHEM), each year taking on a new cohort of medical professionals to train them in this subspeciality and equip them with all the experience they need to work in critical care for a busy air ambulance. Meet our new starters below.

Pete Reeve – trainee Specialist Paramedic in Critical Care

Can you explain a bit about your background?

I have 11 years’ frontline ambulance experience, working out of Swindon and Reading. Before that, I also had one year’s Patient Transport Services (PTS) experience.

Why did you want to work for GWAAC?

I think Pre-Hospital Critical Care is at the cutting edge, and for me is the pinnacle of a career as a Paramedic. In addition, I’m most looking forward to working within a highly trained and disciplined team, who also really care about staff welfare.

Pete Reeve
Matt Robinson

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself

I used to work as a Conflict Resolution Instructor for the Police, and part of the job involved being paid to get into arguments and fights with them – not your typical role!

Matt Robinson – trainee Specialist Paramedic in Critical Care

What did you do before you joined GWAAC?

I’ve worked as a Paramedic in Bristol for the past nine years, working on ambulances and Rapid Response Vehicles (RRVs). More recently I also worked in the Emergency Department and as a member of the Hazardous Area Response Team.

Why did you want to work for GWAAC?

I have worked closely with the GWAAC crews in recent years and witnessed firsthand the expert pre-hospital medicine they deliver in some very challenging environments. The unit is very clinically focused and always striving to improve patient care – that had the greatest appeal to me.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself

I once stopped eating chocolate for 10 years! But I’m still owed my £5 bet…

Dr Matt Creed

Dr Matt Creed – trainee Critical Care Doctor

Tell us about your career so far...

I’ve had a varied career, completing a short service commission as a Medical Officer in the British Army and working in remote and austere environments providing Pre- Hospital Emergency Care. An Anaesthetist by background, I’ve undertaken further training and qualifications in pre-hospital care and also worked providing voluntary prehospital enhanced and critical care through BASICS (British Association for Immediate Care) with the West Midlands Care Team, and as a Solo Responder with MEDSERVE Wales. In addition, I’ve also worked with the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service Cymru as a Clinical Attendant.

Why did you want to work for GWAAC?

Dr Tim Godfrey

In training to become a PHEM (Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine) Consultant I wanted to join a service that is well regarded by trainees with a reputation for providing good training and a strong focus on clinical governance and quality. GWAAC has all of those, and is a busy unit offering a mix of air and land based deployments. A number of my mentors in Wales have been GWAAC alumni, and on top of this the air base is only 45 minutes from my family home meaning I can commute to work. This will be even easier by Christmas once the Severn Bridge toll is removed!

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself

I grew up in Guernsey, which is about 145 miles from the air base as a direct flight. I’m

led to believe the round trip could just about be flown on a full tank in GWAAC’s EC135 if conditions were favourable!

Dr Tim Godfrey - trainee Critical Care Doctor

Can you explain a bit about your background and training so far?

I’m a final year Emergency Medicine registrar (A&E Doctor) and have been in the profession for nearly ten years. I have worked in Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine alongside my A&E work for a few years now, and I also have an MSc in Trauma Science. My main clinical interest is major trauma and I also hold a keen interest in medical education via simulation.

Why did you want to work for GWAAC?

GWAAC has a good reputation for being a very busy service with the opportunity to help many ill and injured people, in addition to having a lot of training opportunities and experience. Plus, I love Brizzle too!

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself

My greatest ever achievement is that I was two baked beans off beating the world record for the number of baked beans eaten in three minutes with a cocktail stick!


Spotted – Your messages and photos

We love receiving messages and photos of our helicopter, so keep them coming!

You can tweet us – @GWAAC, find us on Facebook – Great Western Air Ambulance Charity, or email pr@gwaac.com. You never know, your comments could be featured in the next issue!

Weston-Super-Mare Fire Station @WestonFireStn

Busy first day for Green Watch, straight out to a road traffic accident working with nearby station Yatton, @GWAAC crew and @swasFT, followed by a gain entry and then a washing machine fire in a house this afternoon #westongreenwatch #notjustfires #busymonday

NPAS @NPASAlmondsbury

Working as a team today on an incident in Gloucester @GWAAC

Nathan Aylett

Nathan and his dog spotted our helicopter again out on their walk.


Suzanne Smart - What fantastic people you are keeping us safe thank you.

Steve Figg - Visited their base yesterday to say thanks for treating my dad when he was involved in a horrible accident. These people are truly life savers. They were

also on scene at out football tournament recently to assist the ambulance staff. Very professional and caring. Amazing people.

Linda Milburn - Flying Angels, it’s nice to know we have them looking out for us all thank you.

Adam Foster Jones - GWAAC respoding to a call in Frome
Nathan Aylett & his dog spotted our helicopter


Trevor’s story

The day started normally for Trevor when he left for work, unaware of the events that would soon unfold.

Trevor had been working on a roof at a school, when he was seriously injured following a fall from a significant height.

Our Critical Care Team were called to the scene in our helicopter and gave Trevor the lifesaving care he needed in order to survive. Our GWAAC team consists of a highly trained and experienced Specialist Paramedic and a Critical Care Doctor, who bring the skill and expertise of an Emergency Department directly to the patient.

When we reached Trevor he was unconscious with a very serious head injury. Working alongside ambulance crews from South Western Ambulance Service, the Critical Care Doctor and Specialist Paramedic used their specialist skills to administer a pre-hospital general anaesthetic and placed Trevor onto a life support machine.

Critical Care Doctor, Ed Valentine, and Specialist Paramedic, James Yates, were on scene during Trevor’s incident that day. Ed explains:

‘’We decided that as Trevor had such a severe head injury we would fly him directly to hospital in Southampton instead of the local one, as this was the hospital that had the right specialists to be able to best treat his particular injury and give him the best chance of a good recovery.’’

Once Trevor had been stabilised and anaesthetised, he was taken via our helicopter, whilst being continually monitored by the crew. We flew him directly from the scene to Southampton General Hospital. This journey would normally take almost an hour by road but only took around 15 minutes by helicopter.

Trevor, who has since recovered and been able to visit the Critical Care Team who saved his life, said:

‘’I have recovered well thanks to GWAAC and the medical teams that helped me along the way. I can’t express enough how much I appreciate all that they did to save my life.’’


Behind the scenes of the GWAAC Operations Room

At the start of every day, the GWAAC Critical Care Team sit down together to go through their morning briefing. For a non-medical person, you get a real sense of the importance of the crew’s jobs during this session, and the magnitude of the work which they do is really inspiring. But what’s involved in the morning briefing? Read on to take a peek behind the scenes of the operations room.

What is the morning briefing?

The Critical Care Team’s morning briefing covers a range of intricate details to ensure they are prepared for the day ahead and are ready to go as soon as a call comes in.

Who attends?

The meeting is attended by the pilot, the Critical Care Doctors and Specialist Paramedics in Critical Care (SPCCs) that are on shift that day.

What happens?

It is the SPCC’s job to run the team through a checklist, which will start off by covering what is in the diary for the day, such as any visits from people we have saved, or media interviews. The SPCCs will make sure everyone is aware of any issues which may affect the team, and ensure that they have seen and are familiar with any new pieces of kit or operational instructions.

The morning brief covers aviation matters as well. The pilot will discuss the weather conditions, any events that are going on in the region that might affect the routes that they can take, and make sure the team are up to date with their safety briefings and relevant training. As part of this the pilot has to know how much each team member weighs! Small details like this affect how much fuel the aircraft can carry, and how far it can fly on each tank.

What happens afterwards?

After the morning briefing has come to a conclusion, the crew get on with their various tasks for the day. This always includes training and some paperwork, but may also include research and even writing papers on a particular area of Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine (PHEM) for presentation at conferences or within academic journals.

In addition, they will also continue with other checks and controls, such as making sure that they have enough petrol in the two critical care cars, that the drugs bag is present and complete, that they have blood ready should they need to perform a transfusion, that the ultrasound machine and gel are ready, that

the electronic equipment is charged and that their radios and phones are in working order.

One of the SPCCs will check that all of the crew’s kit is in order and that they have all of the necessary life-saving drugs that they need. The crew carry a range of drugs as part of their kit: Fentanyl which is a synthetic, rapidly acting opioid, other painkillers, anaesthetic agents, muscle relaxants, anti-sickness drugs, drugs that make the heart go faster or slower, drugs that cause blood pressure to go up or down, glucose to raise blood sugar levels and finally antibiotics to avoid the risk of developing a serious infection.

As the controls for carrying drugs are very tight, the crew need to account for each millilitre. Therefore, as part of their kit, they also have personal control books which they must complete for any drugs that they sign out and use during their jobs.

Whenever there is any ‘free’ time the crew like to test each other in training scenarios – daily training is so important, so that complex procedures come naturally and can be performed swiftly in difficult circumstances and time pressured situations.

Helimed News The Magazine of Great Western Air Ambulance Charity Winter 18/1915

Dates for the diary

Throughout the year you can find us at various events around the region. From bucket collections to running challenges, there are many ways you can get involved. Have a look at our events diary below to see just a snapshot of what’s in store for 2019.

Bath Half Marathon 17 March

Forest of Dean Spring Trails 2019 24 March

Bristol 10k 5 May

Cotswold Way Walk 29-30 June

Nightrider 2019 6-7 July

Severn Bridge Half and 10k 25 August

Bristol Half Marathon 15 September

Kilimanjaro Challenge 2019 13-22 September

Cheltenham Half Marathon 29 September

Ride4GWAAC Sept 2019

GWAAC Dusk Walk Autumn 2019

Forever Flying Remembrance Service Dec 2019

If you would like to volunteer at an event or take part in a challenge, then get in touch now! Email info@gwaac.com or call us on 0303 4444 999

This story is from: