Mission statistics for 2021 reveal just how vital the response of the Devon Air Ambulance medical emergency service is to the people of Devon, as they experience their busiest year ever.

Throughout another challenging year for many public services and charities, the crew at Devon Air Ambulance has been tasked to attend over 1900 incidents across Devon and were also called to assist across our borders in neighbouring counties of Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset and one mission to Hampshire.

Of those 1900 missions, 844 were to help patients with medical emergencies (those suffering with a medical condition) and 1050 were trauma-related incidents (accidents and injuries caused by slips, trips, falls, burns and road traffic collisions to name just a few). 

Nigel Hare, Patient Services Operations Director commented about the year:

Responding to 1900 missions, our Critical Care Doctors and Paramedics have had their busiest year ever. Alongside our pilots around three quarters of our deployments were by helicopter, with over 500 missions using one of our Critical Care Cars. Helping almost 1200 patients suffering from life threatening or life changing medical emergencies or traumatic injuries has required our clinicians and support staff to work tirelessly, often in challenging conditions during the pandemic, to ensure our patients were able to receive the highest level of care and have the best chance of a successful outcome.

“People often associate Devon Air Ambulance with responding to people having accidents or sustaining serious injuries, and where last year we did respond to 275 Road Traffic Collisions and 526 incidents where people sustained traumatic injuries, nearly half the patients we respond to each year are suffering a life-threatening medical condition. In 2021, over 40% of the people we deployed to were having chest pains or suffering a cardiac arrest.”

“With children representing 11.5% of the patients we treated, and those aged over 70, 24%, we truly are there for everyone, something only made possible by the continuing generous support of the people of Devon.” 

In 2022, the charity will focus on cardiac arrest, aiming to educate and raise awareness within our local communities that anyone can help to save the life of someone who is suffering from a Cardiac Arrest, should the need arise. 315 patients that the DAA crew attended were suffering a cardiac arrest and they accounted for the most common of all medical related missions (37%).

Charlotte Leventis, Head of Communications at Devon Air Ambulance said:

“As part of our Quarter One Campaign Help with all your Heart, we will be sharing news and information about cardiac arrest, including ways in which we can help to build public confidence in using defibrillators within our local communities. 

“To do this we would like to ask everyone to take part in a very quick anonymous survey about defibrillators – if you can spare just a couple of minutes to answer a handful of questions, it will really help us to shape our campaign and will give us the opportunity to be able to answer any questions and concerns that you may have.”

We know that swift help from a bystander can help to save a life so, we are installing a defibrillator for public use, outside each of our 19 shops. So far, we are very proud to have installations completed at the following locations: Kingsbridge, Totnes, Exmouth, Exeter - Cowick Street, St Marychurch - Torquay, and Budleigh Salterton with more to follow in the coming weeks.

Help Devon Air Ambulance by completing this quick survey about defibrillators.

In 2021, crews assisted 763 male and 428 female patients and 137 children (Age 0-17) who also needed their expert care, this was double the number of children treated in 2020. July remains DAA’s busiest month of the year and Saturday was their busiest day of the week. This is thought to be due to many people taking time out for their favourite hobbies and pastimes at the weekend, as well as those carrying out home improvement plans that don’t always go as smoothly as intended. 526 incidents were related to ‘Accidental Injury’ and 59 incidents were to assist those that were taking part in their sport or leisure activity.#

A 100% Independent service

It is important to remember that this service is not Government funded and although DAA works together with land ambulance crews at the scene, the charity is not part of the NHS. DAA is funded by the kind generosity of the people of Devon and their expert clinicians are tasked to incidents when an enhanced level of specialist care is required and when minutes really matter. This time-critical treatment would not otherwise be available to the patient until they reached a hospital emergency department. 

The Devon Air Ambulance helicopter crew conveyed 270 patients by air in 2021, but also accompanied 306 patients on their journey to hospital in a land ambulance so they could continue to observe, monitor and treat them with the enhanced care they needed until their arrival at hospital. 

It's thanks to kind and generous supporters across Devon and beyond that this life-saving charity continues to deliver expert time-critical care every day of the year. If you feel you can lend your support by making a donation, you will be helping to make a life-saving difference and who knows when we might need them.