A day in the life of a paramedic on land is hectic enough but for an air ambulance crew there are even more obstacles for them to overcome in order to deliver the best service possible.
Their day starts with a journey from home to the air base where they should arrive just before eight in the morning. Next they should change into their flying clothes and wait for the pilot to perform some safety checks on the helicopter. While the pilot is performing safety checks to the helicopter the rest of the crew usually checking that they have all of the correct equipment for a day in the sky. Once all of the necessary checks have been made the helicopter is taken from the base and placed onto the helicopter pad outside of the hanger.
After all of the initial preparations the crew must go through an aviation brief prior to any flights; these briefs conduct an analysis of the day’s weather and wind directions in that area. There is also a discussion relating to any emergency events that may take place – in the unfortunate event that this should happen. Once every member of the crew understands and is fully happy they carry on with the day and wait for a call.
When the emergency phone rings everyone prepares to leave. One crew member takes the call from the ambulance headquarters and takes down all of the information that the crew will need for the mission. The rest of the crew plan how they will complete the mission.
The navigator – the crew member who takes the call – starts to plot grid references on a map in order to work out how far away the incident is. At the same time that this is going on another member of the crew goes out with the captain in order to perform the engine start procedures. Once the navigator has finished working out the direction etc. he runs to the helicopter and meets the rest of the crew. He jumps in beside the pilot and shares the information that he’s found. Once the pilot knows the situation, the GPS has been programmed and the pre-flight checks are complete, the team is ready for take-off.
Although this long and complicated process seems like it would take an extremely long time, all of this actually happens in under four minutes from receiving the call. Each crew can be called up to around six incidents per day but on some rare occasions this number has been as high as ten. Each time they attend an incident they have to make the decision whether or not to take the patient to hospital or to treat them at the scene – this depends on the severity of injuries etc.
IAS Medical is just one of the many air ambulance crews operating around the UK. If you think this sounds like a job for you then try getting in contact with your local unit.