The New Year brings with it new and exciting projects and plans for Devon Air Ambulance (DAA). The past year has been challenging in many ways for everyone and the team at DAA certainly met and overcame some significant challenges.
But there have also been many developments, highlights and celebrations which wouldn’t have been possible without the unwavering determination of those who kindly give to Devon Air Ambulance in so many ways.
The biggest development operationally was in November when the new Airbus H145 helicopter went into service. After many years of planning and collaboration on an international level, the new aircraft based at Exeter airport became operational. Critical Care Paramedics are on site from 7am until 2am waiting for a call and can be airborne and on their way to assist their patient within just 2 minutes
Ian Payne, Flight Operations Director explains: “We were absolutely thrilled to bring the Airbus H145 home to the people of Devon. Their determination to raise the funds needed, coupled with our determination to deliver this magnificent aircraft, means we now have state of the art flight systems and much improved space available to treat and convey patients.
“It has a bigger airframe than our EC135 and we have designed our own medical fit-out which includes a unique seating configuration so that up to three clinicians can all access a patient, either on the ground or when in flight, with their vital life-saving equipment and monitors laid out systematically and within easy reach.”
In true DAA tradition, when a new Heli joins the fleet, DAA had plans to fly G-DAAS around the county to show her off and say thank you for the tremendous help that hundreds of supporters gave to bring her to fruition, however, with the pandemic continuing to stand in the way, there are now plans afoot to host virtual tours which will give us all a bird’s eye view and closer look at the interior of this amazing medical machine.
Specialist Critical Care Paramedic Jess explains one of the main advantages: “The larger clinical area in the 145 means that we are able to keep more of our equipment with the patient in flight. With the smaller 135, prior to loading the patient, the clinical team must prioritise which equipment needs to be kept with the patient and which can be stowed in the front left-hand seat as there's less space available to keep everything in the back.
"Throughout the pandemic, this became increasingly challenging because a protective screen segregates us in the clinical area from the pilot in the cockpit, therefore once equipment is stowed in the front, it can't be accessed. The 145 eradicates this problem as all kit remains at the patient’s side and within our easy reach!”
Pilot Craig describes his favourite part of the new aircraft: "My favourite part of the H145 is the amazing Helionix Flight System - it's an Airbus package and contains a fantastic range of information displayed clearly on a number of screens for the use of both the Pilot and Paramedics in the cockpit.
"It contains vital safety information which enables us to plan and to make the best decisions possible to fly our medical team and our patients on board safely to our destination. I would like to thank our supporters for all they have done to enable us to welcome this new helicopter to the fleet, without them it would not have been possible."
Let us not forget that G-DAAN the H135 helicopter formerly based at Exeter has now relocated to the service’s North Devon airbase at Eaglescott near Burrington, which means that Devon now has two aircraft with full night vision capability, another invaluable benefit when the crew are called out to assist a medical emergency in the hours of darkness.
Devon Air Ambulance is a charity that we hope we may never need to call upon, but to ensure it is there for us if we do, it is one we must cherish as this team arrive on scene to save the life of somebody’s loved one every day. If you would like to support Devon Air Ambulance or find out more about how you can help visit daat.org