It's a rare thing to get all the Devon Air Ambulance teams in one room together, but we managed it last week for our Annual Away Day, which was hosted by Crealy Meadows. 

Though Crealy is perhaps best known for its fun-filled family rides, we weren't taking time out just to play; it was very much business - but not as usual... 

If you build it, they will run... or will they?

The day began with mixed teams of aircrew, retail and office-based staff working together to build a kart that could be pushed around a specially-constructed miniature obstacle course. Some were more successful than others; there may have been a lost wheel, or some over-cautious manoeuvring, but all teams finished with spirits elevated thanks to the shared support between teams!.

Bringing operations to life

Thanks to the contributions of our supporters, we have been able to purchase a collection of extremely life-like medical dummies. The suite includes an adult male, adult female, a young child, a toddler and a baby, and are anatomically correct, weighted like real bodies, with all the features needed, such as veins and airways, for the operations team to train daily for medical missions.Medics attend our very lifelike dummies

At £40,000 for all five, the dummies are far from cheap, but the investment has already yielded incredible benefits for patients as staff observed when the operations team demonstrated a response to a model trauma incident we devised.

Medics attend our very lifelike dummies

Led by Critical Care Doctor, Clare Bosanko, the medical team attended the male, female and child dummies with all the calm professionalism they exhibit daily in the missions they attend. The seamless, efficient and meticulous nature of their work was eye opening, even to those among us who have worked with the charity for a number of years.

Doubtless the operation was further brought to life by the realism of the dummies, which help the team to prepare for the varied and complex incidents they face across Devon and beyond every day. 

Time well spent

Assembled staff from across retail, fundraising and finance, also yielded the benefits of our expert medical team who talked groups through the most up-to-date CPR procedures. 

Each of us may find ourselves in a situation in which we could help to preserve the life of someone who has collapsed or experienced medical trauma, whilst we await medical help, so the training of over 80 staff received on this day doubtless added knowledge to the Devon community. 

A patient's story

We also heard from a former patient, Marcus Mattocks; a family and business man who endured significant injury following an off-road cycling accident in Haldon Woods. His injuries included a shattered wrist, collapsed lung and exploded kidney. Without the swift support of Devon Air Ambulance, the situation would doubtless have been a lot worse for him and his young family. 

All were moved by listening to his powerful account of the accident and his slow and difficult road to recovery, as well as the impact of his devastating experience on all aspects of his family's life. Nevertheless, his story was testimony to the work of the teams that supported him, made possible by the incredible and ongoing contributions of Devon's many supporters who keep our helicopters flying. 

The day concluded with a celebration of staff for long service, of which there were two twenty year awards to Fundraising & Communications Director Caroline Creer and Marketing & Communications Manager Sarah Burden. These were presented by DAA patron, David Fitzgerald (BBC Radio Devon and BBC Spotlight), who also presented awards to individuals nominated by staff and the judging panel, which comprised representatives from each department and was independently chaired by our trustee, Richard Plunkett.

There are a number of ways to help support Devon Air Ambulance, from volunteering your time in any number of ways, to making a donation, fundraising, or remembering us in your will. We love to hear about the various ways that people are helping to keep Devon's Air ambulances, so do get in touch with us if you would like to help.