At the end of every year, when we step back and look at what we have achieved I am always astounded at the amazing things that the community and businesses alike do in order to ensure their Air Ambulances have enough funding to keep flying. Thank you so much for your continued support.
This year has been yet another extraordinary one not only from a fundraising perspective but also in relation to operational developments.
We became truly independent in 2014. The Charity through, its Trading Company, already owns both of our EC135 helicopters but in the past always relied on an external body to operate them. This all changed this year when we applied for and were granted our own Air Operating Certificate (AOC). We were delighted to be the first Air Ambulance to do this under the auspices of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
Hospital helipads have been high up on the agenda, both locally and nationally, and we’ve had a really constructive year working closely with North Devon District, Torbay and the RD&E hospitals, who have all made substantial improvements to their pads, which helps ensure landing in built up areas like hospitals remains as safe as reasonably practical. Again, being independent operators now, we are able to liaise with hospitals direct, which really have made a difference in developing our relationships with them and working together to provide the safest service for the patient and the staff.
As the South West’s Major Trauma Centre, we were delighted that Derriford Hospital in Plymouth announced and has since started work on their new state of the art helipad, not only for us but our other emergency services colleagues like the coastguard, search and rescue and our neighbouring Cornwall Air Ambulance. Our Operations Director Nigel Hare was able to assist in the planning stages to ensure the new helipad will be fit for purpose for future night operations too. It was a bonus that one of our Business On Board companies SWH Civils, a division of South West Highways Ltd who supported us as their charity of the year, had got the contract to build. It’s been a really constructive partnership and we are proud of the part we were able to play.
Looking forward to 2015 we’re definitely going to continue moving forward and building on what we have achieved this year. The most exciting of these will lead up to extending our flying hours into the night.
To be able to do this we not only need to increase our regular income by £1 million a year, we also need to establish a network of community helipads across the county, so that we have pre-surveyed lit sites to land at during the hours of darkness, which in the winter can be as early as 4:30pm. We would love to hear from you if you would like to express an interest to help in your community or you know of a suitable site.
On behalf of Devon Air Ambulance Trust I wish you a happy and healthy New Year.
Heléna Holt, CEO, Devon Air Ambulance Trust