The Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and their incredible work
PUBLISHED: 11:15 10 September 2014 | UPDATED: 11:18 10 September 2014
The popular Buckham Fair generously donates to various charities every year, and in 2014 is supporting Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and the vital work they do
Since launching in 2000 Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance has attended nearly 10,000 incidents. With no direct Government or National Lottery funding, this vital service which operates 365 days a year, relies on the generosity of the public to help raise the £1.7 million a year it costs to keep flying.
This airborne service is essential for a rural county like Dorset where getting to the scene of an accident by road can sometimes be tricky and slow. Similarly, getting from the scene to the most appropriate (not always the closest) hospital by road, can be subject to unacceptable delays. The Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance can reach anywhere in Dorset in under 19 minutes of receiving a call. More importantly, the helicopter can then take the patient to any one of the three Major Trauma Centres in the South West within a further 20 minutes.
On board the yellow helicopter specially trained paramedics can deal with the widest range of medical conditions and injuries, and the pilots are skilled in handling incidents that test every aspect of the aircraft’s capability. Here are the stories of just a few Dorset people whose lives were undoubtedly saved by this vital service.
Jennifer suffered a fall from her horse whilst out riding near Blandford. She was in a remote part of Dorset which was inaccessible by road. Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance airlifted her to hospital where she learnt that she had dislocated her C4/C5 vertebrae and had multiple fractures in her spinal column. In other words, she had broken her neck. At that point her future was looking very bleak.
After being transferred to Southampton’s Intensive Neurology Ward she had four screws bolted into her head and a vice fitted which would allow 20kg of traction to pull the dislocation apart. She underwent major spinal surgery to remove her C4/C5 disk and a metal plate was inserted into her neck to fix the joint permanently. The following day, Jennifer stood for the first time and within a week she was back at home. She is quick to praise the Charity: “The service which Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance provide is truly remarkable and I can’t thank them all enough. Without their help, my outcome could have been so very different.”
My accident happened at home near Dorchester. I was out in our fields driving the tractor which had a roller attached, when I went over some really bumpy ground.
I fell off and the tractor and roller subsequently drove over me causing a number of serious injuries. I broke all my ribs apart from three, bruised my lungs, broke my sternum and collarbone, lacerated my liver, fractured my pelvis and badly damaged my left leg and ankle.
When the emergency services were called, the Air Ambulance was at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester after dealing with another incident. They were with me within minutes. I remember the helicopter landing and a gentleman talking to me, but nothing after that until I woke in Southampton General Hospital (SGH) a week later.
I was put into an induced coma and spent over two weeks in intensive care followed by a few days on the high dependency ward, before being moved onto an orthopaedic ward. I am now back riding my horse and walking my dogs again. Words cannot describe how grateful I am to the Air Ambulance. The prompt attention I received saved my life.
13-year-old Louis was on his bicycle, helping a friend with his paper round in Sherborne when he was involved in a road traffic incident. Louis suffered a broken scapula and major head injuries. An ambulance rushed him to Yeovil District Hospital where, after CT scan, consultants decided that he would need specialist treatment at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol. The journey of approximately 50 miles would have taken around an hour and quarter by road.
Time was not something that Louis had. The Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance met the team from Yeovil at 10.59am and they all arrived at Frenchay just 16 minutes later.
“I believe this speed saved Louis life,” says his mum Tina. “The Air Ambulance flight meant that Louis could receive the treatment he needed at the earliest possible time, which was crucial.” From the helipad Louis was taken to theatre as he was bleeding around the brain in a number of places. He was in an induced coma for two and half weeks, and then a semi-coma for a further week before he started making a slow recovery.
“When I wrote to the charity asking if Louis could meet the air ambulance crew, I never knew we would build such an incredible relationship with everyone,” says Tina. “We’ve fundraising for them ever since.”