Chosen Charity for 2017

Our chosen charity for 2017 is the The Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance



Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance is a registered charity, established to provide relief from sickness and injury for the people of Dorset and Somerset, by the provision of an air ambulance. They receive no direct funding from the Government or the National Lottery and rely on the generosity of the public for support. Their operational costs are over £2 million a year and the approximate cost per mission is £2,500. It is inevitable that these costs will rise significantly in the coming year as their clinical team will almost double in size due to an increase in their operating hours, their new AW169 helicopter is bigger and uses more fuel per hour and they have invested in a great deal of new clinical equipment and training activities.

A1 pic (1)Operations

Since their launch in 2000 they have flown nearly 12,000 missions. They are tasked as part of the normal ‘999’ emergency process by a dedicated Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) desk located at Ambulance Control (paid for by the South West Air Ambulance Charities) and can attend up to eight or nine incidents in a single day during the summer months. The charity’s airbase is situated at Henstridge Airfield on the Dorset/Somerset border. From there, they can be at any point in the two counties in less than 20 minutes. More importantly, the helicopter can, if required, then take a patient to the nearest Major Trauma Centre in the South West within a further 20 minutes.

A1 pic (9)

Providing Critical Care

The Critical Care Team includes a mixture of Senior Emergency Physicians, Intensive Care Consultants and Anaesthetists, Specialist Paramedics (Critical Care) and a small number of Paramedics and a Nurse who are working towards the ‘Specialist’ qualification. They aim to provide a Critical Care Team, consisting of at least a Doctor and Specialist Paramedic, for each mission. The doctors are drawn from NHS Hospital Trusts across the region and the paramedics are from the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASfT).

DSAA critical care paramedic Steve Westbrook heads towards the helicopter
DSAA critical care paramedic Steve Westbrook heads towards the helicopter


The pilots are provided by Specialist Aviation Services Ltd, who operate the aircraft. They are carefully selected because air ambulance flights are typically more challenging than regular non-emergency flight services.

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 13.06.37Operational Hours

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance operates 19 hours a day (07.00am – 02.00am) using two vital resources which include an AW169 helicopter and a Critical Care Car.

You can keep up to date about Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance services and other ways to support them:

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