This week Devon’s Air Ambulances are celebrating becoming truly independent and self-sufficient.
The Charity, through its operating arm Devon Air Ambulance Trading Company Limited, has been awarded their own Air Operators Certificate (AOC) from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), something the Charity have previously relied on other agencies to hold and operate on their behalf.
Nigel Hare, Operations Director of Devon Air Ambulance Trust said “After a rigorous registration process we are proud to announce we have been awarded our own AOC.
The CAA only award this to an organisation once they have clearly demonstrated they meet the all of the stringent operating and safety competencies needed to run a commercial air transport service. We are proud our service is delivered free of charge to the patients we treat at their time of need, however aviation legislation regards a patient as a ‘commercial passenger’ and the awarding of our AOC recognises we have developed and operate processes and standards that are of the same high quality required by any commercial airline.”
Nigel added “Operating under our own AOC does have a financial cost however these are costs we have always had to pay to an outside organisation to operate an AOC on our behalf. The difference now is we can focus all of this cost solely on enhancing and developing even further the service Devon Air Ambulance is able to offer patients.”
“One example of this increased benefit is the appointment of our own Flight Operations Director, a mandatory post we have always been required to fund through other organisations which by now being in house can be dedicated to managing and developing just our service. The charity welcomes to this role Ian Payne, formerly head of the Devon & Cornwall Constabulary Air Support Unit. To help further enhance our service we are also transferring the provision of pilots in house and Ian as a qualified pilot himself will form part of our team of five pilots who fly our two Air Ambulances.”
Chief Executive Heléna Holt added “To be wholly independent is very important to the Charity. We believe this is the right way to take the service, as it enables us to be in charge of our own destiny. We can future proof and further develop the service, meaning that we are constantly looking at how we can make Devon’s Air Ambulances the best fit possible to the community and county that we serve. None of this would be possible without the support received and funds raised by the community as a whole.”
Saturday 1 March was the first day of independence for Devon’s Air Ambulances and proved to be an extremely busy one.
During the day there were in fact 8 call outs, 4 for each helicopter, ranging from medical collapses to Road Traffic Collisions (RTC) in the areas of Crediton, Dartmoor, Braunton, Bideford and Highampton as well as seeing the charity support our neighbouring air ambulance in Cornwall, who themselves later in the day assisted at an RTC in Devon where more than one Air Ambulance was required when our second aircraft was already responding to another serious incident.
Photos courtesy of Michelle Lovegrove Photography & Design: Steve Tupper (Accountable Manager), Ian Payne (Flight Operations Director), Nigel Hare (Ground Operations Director) and Rob Mackie (Safety Manager)