London Air Ambulance ‘Angels of the Air’ launch bid for 2nd helicopter

'Angels of the air' over London

'Angels of the air' over London - Credit: London Air Ambulance

The “angels of the air” who fly out across London from their helicopter base at Whitechapel have helped save 30,000 people in their 25 years since first taking off.

Air ambulance landing byTower Bridge

Air ambulance landing byTower Bridge - Credit: London Air Ambulance

Now the Air Ambulance charity at the Royal London Hospital is set to start raising funds for a second helicopter and to be able to fly longer hours.

They want to save more people like Rayan, who could have been yet another London teenager to die from a knife attack.

The 16-year-old was stabbed in the heart causing it to stop in an incident earlier this year.

The Air Ambulance team was by his side in minutes, to perform open chest surgery and administer a blood transfusion at the roadside, literally giving him life when he was clinically dead.

“They are angels for me and my whole family,” said Rayan’s mother. “It is so distressing to think that Ryan was clinically dead. They saved my son’s life.”

The family have asked not to use details of their name and where they live because they fear Ryan could still be in danger.

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The charity that flies advanced trauma teams from the Royal London to critically injured people all over London, up to the M25 motorway, has reached a significant milestone in treating 30,000 trauma patients since it began in 1989.

It saves lives with time-critical medical interventions delivered at the scene of the incident.

Open chest surgery, or Thoracotomy, performed at the roadside was introduced by the helicopter team which has given life to patients like Ryan who are clinically dead.

The procedure has led to the Air Ambulance achieving a world leading survival rate.

Medical director Dr Gareth Davies said: “There are patients continuing their lives who simply wouldn’t have survived anywhere else in the world—thanks to treatments pioneered by the service.”

Only one advanced trauma doctor and paramedic are on call at any one time for the 10 million population living, working and travelling in London. But the need is to expand that vital service.

The charity celebrates 25 years in the air in the New Year, having pushed the boundaries of pre-hospital medicine to save lives by speeding up treatment of trauma patients.

They now carry blood on board the helicopter, which was introduced in March last year. That has meant 150 patients being given transfusions at the roadside—saving vital minutes and increasing chances of survival from severe blood loss.

Most common missions include road traffic collisions involving pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. These account for one-in-three of all patients air-lifted to the Royal London.

But a quarter of all flight missions from Whitechapel involve patients who have been shot or, like Ryan, stabbed.

Fatality rates would be much higher without the medical intervention carried out at the roadside, the chairy points out.

The charity is always on the lookout for volunteers. But now it has begun an appeal for people to leave money in their will or sign up to a weekly £1 lottery with a £1,000 prize on the air ambulance website: www.londonsairambulance.co.uk/lottery

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