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Newsletter #144     | News

Wiltshire Air Ambulance celebrates 25th anniversary


The service has saved countless lives during its 25 years and has carried out almost 15,000 missions.


Wiltshire Air Ambulance celebrates 25th anniversary


Wiltshire Air Ambulance, March 15, 2015 - Wiltshire Air Ambulance hosted a special get together of patients it has airlifted since it started operating on March 15, 1990.

The service has saved countless lives during its 25 years and has carried out almost 15,000 missions.

To mark the service’s Silver Jubilee the charity invited past patients to visit the helicopter’s base at the Wiltshire Police HQ in Devizes and the Mad Hatters Café in Edward Street, Westbury, baked an anniversary cake for the occasion.

The idea for an air ambulance in Wiltshire came following an incident in 1988 when Wiltshire Police hired a helicopter to monitor the summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge. While in the air the crew heard of a potentially fatal accident involving a woman on the A350 at Beanacre near Melksham.

The police observer’s seat was removed to make way for a stretcher and the observer vacated the helicopter for the paramedic. The woman was flown to the Royal United Hospital, Bath, in five minutes and survived.

From March 15, 1990, to December 31, 2014, Wiltshire Air Ambulance shared a helicopter with Wiltshire Police. The first helicopter was a Bolkow. In December 1998 this was replaced by a MD 902 Explorer – the first of its kind to be used as a police helicopter in the UK.

In the summer of 2001 the flying hours of the joint helicopter were extended to 19 hours a day due to the demand for medical emergencies. At the time Wiltshire was the first air ambulance in the UK to fly at night.

The partnership with Wiltshire Police ended due to the force joining the National Police Air Service and in January 2015 the charity started operating a new helicopter, a £5m Bell 429 with a top speed of 180mph, as a dedicated air ambulance.

Wiltshire is making aviation history as the Bell 429 is the first to be used as an air ambulance in the UK.


This article is listed in :
WAACT UK Wiltshire Air Ambulance UK Air Ambulances
UK Wiltshire Police UK Police Forces
UK Devizes

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