Tuesday, May 16, 2023

London's Air Ambulance Charity

London The Unfinished City
Emergency Services in Marylebone Green, Regent's Park.

It is not uncommon, when traversing London's streets and parks, to see a myriad of different helicopters and aircraft flitting across the sky. Passenger jets, news and police helicopters along with the occasional military aircraft or chinook.

However, there are two London Air Ambulance helicopters, one on duty one in reserve, that can often be seen flying anywhere within the M25.

It is even more rare is to see one land and then takeoff.

It was while walking besides The Regent's Park that I heard the sound of a helicopter landing and immediately went looking for it.

London The Unfinished City

Fortunately, on this occasion, the helicopter wan't needed as the ambulance crew had everything in hand.

Deciding to wait until it was ready to depart I sat upon the warm grass of Marylebone Green and waited... patiently. 

The roar of the engines getting up to full speed is a wondrous and terrifying sound, in equal measure.

With the helicopter airborne and on its way back to Whitechapel, I exited the park and continued on my walk.

Brief History

In 1989 the charity was founded as a way to reduce death and delays in lifesaving treatment at the incident location. Using elements of medical, military and aviation culture the service can deliver the highest standards in intensive care to the roadside. 

Such is the governance system and operating procedures, developed by the charity, they are seen as the benchmark for air ambulances around the world.

London The Unfinished City
Preparing to return to the skies. 

The current helicopters, both MD 902 Explorers, replaced the previous helicopter, an Aerospatiale Dauphin built in 1982 and continued in service until 2000.

The new helicopters, G-EHMS 'Rowan' and G-LNDN 'Walter', went into service in 2000 and 2016, respectively.

Each helicopter has a pilot, co-pilot, an advanced trauma doctor and a paramedic, at all times, and, from 2018, a consultant in pre-hospital emergency medicine is present on most shifts. The helicopters also carry blood supplies, which can be stored onboard for upto 72 hours.

Although hangared at RAF Northolt the helicopters operate from the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.

Only one helicopter is in operation at a time, with the other being held in reserve.

Flying between the hours of 08:00 and sunset the helicopters can reach anyone within the M25 within 15 minutes. At night the Advanced Trauma Team uses specially kitted out Rapid Response cars.

The helicopters can travel at 120 knots (220kph / 140mph) at a height of between 150 and 300 metres (500 and 1000 feet), for about an hour.

Follow the link below for a video of G-EHMS 'Rowan' taking off.

G-EHMS 'Rowan' takes to the skies

This worthwhile charity relies on donations, which you can make by following the link below.

London's Air Ambulance Charity

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