With two dramatic coastlines, many miles of rugged moorland and a countryside punctuated with hundreds of charming villages and many family attractions - all reached by more winding roads than any other county, Devon is one of the UK's most popular destinations for holidaymakers. 

In 2021, a year in which post-lockdown restrictions limit access to destinations abroad, the southwest is even more attractive to those seeking some long-awaited down time. 

In a normal year and as a tourist hot-spot, Devon inevitably gets busier in the summer months, but will a post-lockdown boom in activity mean more missions for our crews? We look at the trends and what the anticipated busy summer could mean for Devon Air Ambulance. 

Post-lockdown peaks in activity

Following the introduction of the first lockdown in mid-March 2020, our activity noticeably dropped during March and April that year. However, as people began to return to the workplace and when schools re-opened in May/June, followed by non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants in July/August, our service experienced a prolonged busy period.  

Demand for the service persisted right through to October in a way that it had not the previous year, as those who had found themselves confined in the early part of the year made the most of their newly regained freedom.  

Later in 2020 as the tiered system followed by a second lockdown came into force for the duration of October/November, our crews returned to normal levels of deployment.  

The lift to lockdown 2 in early December resulted in another spike of activity for us. January and March 2021 have been the busiest January and March in 6 years and February 2021 was the second busiest February in that time, with only February 2018 being busier.   

As the third lockdown eased, we have seen another significant increase as we approach the summer months. For example, our crews were deployed to more road traffic collisions in April 2021 than in any single month during either of the past two summers, which would typically be our busy times of year with more traffic on the roads. April and May 2021 have been our busiest April and May in the last 6 years. 

Explore our missions data or review our missions map

April 2021 had the highest number of deployments of any month over the last 6 years. 

Staying out for the summer

If the trend for post-lockdown spikes in our deployment continues, coupled with the tendency for summer to be a busy time for Devon and its influx of visitors in a 'normal' year, we are expecting and planning for a busy summer 2021 as crews are called to attend road traffic collisions, medical incidents, sports and leisure incidents and accidental injuries.  

And with more of us determined to enjoy the sea, the pubs and restaurants, the outdoor opportunities (often irrespective of an Indian summer or a washout), unfortunately there is even more occasion for people to fall ill or become injured, whether at home or visiting. 

Falling ill or injured on holiday 

It's not just Devon residents that fall ill during the busier times of year. Naturally Devon draws visitors from out of county who are looking to enjoy a trip to the southwest but sometimes those trips can take an unexpected turn.

  • Laura Negus and her husband, both from Gloucestershire, had been enjoying a holiday to North Devon when bad luck befell Laura while she was horse riding along Saunton Sands. Laura was riding at the back of the group when her horse stumbled and she was thrown into the rising tide. The combination of physical injuries and the time Laura had spend submerged, unconscious in the waves, meant Devon Air Ambulance's crew had to be swift to take action in this time-critical situation. Read Laura's story.

  • Rebecca was on holiday in Westward Ho! but while she turned to get the milk her toddler reached for a mug of scalding hot coffee, tipping it down her front. Devon Air Ambulance was called and Grace stayed the week in Bristol Children's Hospital. Little Grace is fine now thanks to swift our Critical Care team's swift and intervention. Read Rebecca's story.

  • Mike was camping with family when a slip on a slope meant an open fracture and a helicopter trip to hospital. Thankfully he has now made a full recovery. Read Mike's story.

  • Noel was enjoying a break in the South Hams when a wasp sting sent him into anaphalactic shock. An immediate response from family, quick-thinking bystanders and from Devon Air Ambulance paramedics meant that tragedy was avoided. Read Noel's story.

  • Two incidents on the same beach in the same day kept Devon Air Ambulance crews busy in August 2017. Thankfully, a more serious outcome for young Ethan and Brian, both on holiday with their families, was avoided. Read their stories. 

Help us to keep holidays happy 

As a service that is made possible thanks to the incredible support of the communities and visitors to the region whom we attend, we welcome your continued support.

Devon Air Ambulance is 100% independent of Government funding and every penny donated or raised for us from supporters like you helps us to save lives. Thank you for your continued support.  

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