London Air Ambulance kept busy by violent crime

The vital role of the London Air Ambulance in saving the lives of victims of gunshot and stab wounds has been highlighted in a breakdown of the incidents attended by it.

The helicopter ambulance, stationed on the rooftop of the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, and run as a charity, attended 315 shootings and stabbings in the first six months of this year.

The flying ambulance delivers trauma teams to those critically injured in violent crime, serious road accidents and falls from heights on the streets of the capital.

Medics can carry out procedures normally only found in hospital emergency departments, iincluding open chest surgery, blood transfusion and anaesthesia..

From January to August this year the Air Ambulance carried out 22 thoracotomies (open chest surgery), a procedure performed when a patient is in cardiac arrest due to penetrating injury to the chest through stabbing, shooting or accidental impalement.

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The long terms survival rate for patients who would otherwise be dead as a result of this type of injury is 18 per cent.

Dr Gareth Davies, Chair and Medical Director of London’s Air Ambulance, said: “London’s Air Ambulance is the only service in the capital that can perform this type of procedure outside of hospital.

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“Open chest surgery, is usually only performed by a cardiothoracic surgeon in an operating theatre,” he added.

The air ambulance also attended 471 road traffic collisions in the same six month period-48 involving cyclists 204 pedestrians hit by cars, and 82 motorcyclists.

They also treated 286 people who had fallen from height.

The charity is raising public awareness of its vital life-saving role to mark National Air Ambulance week which started on Monday.

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