Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance commits to full night flying capability

Night-time flying takes Air Ambulance into new era

23rd September 2014: Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance (TVACAA) has today announced its commitment to full night-time flying. Together with its operational partner Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA), the Charity will extend its relationship with Bond Air Services Ltd, upgrading to a new helicopter with full night flying capability. This will enable TVACAA to realise its long-term ambition of extending its life-saving service into the hours of darkness as well as in daylight and provide a gold standard of patient care to people in emergency situations - no matter who, no matter where, no matter when.

TVACAA will start to operate the enhanced model Airbus EC135T3 helicopter during the second half of 2015, and HIOWAA will also move to the upgraded version at the same time. As a result, South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) will have two upgraded helicopters available 365 days of the year, optimised for night operations with crews equipped with Night Vision Goggles.

TVACAA and HIOWAA, operating in close cooperation, cover the whole of the SCAS region as well as The Isle of Wight. The relationship between the two charities is unique amongst air ambulance services in the UK and enables them to share operational resources and expertise, as well as a commitment to saving lives.

Tim Shattock, Managing Director of Bond Air Services said: “Bond Air Services is proud to continue its relationship with TVACAA and HIOWAA. This new contract means we will work together to continue to provide this vital service to communities across the area for years to come. Introducing night operations will add an extra dimension of capability to our world-class air ambulance support, helping us save lives and provide emergency medical support where and when it is needed most.”

Mark McGeown, Chief Executive, TVACAA adds, “The introduction of Night flying will take our air ambulance service to the next level of capability and is another important step along our path of continuous development. In the last year or so we have been able to fund a number of major enhancements: we have extended our operating hours, have moved to having Doctors on Board for the majority of our missions and have provided our medical crew with high tech specialist equipment. We are also in the process of funding and upgrading our operating base at RAF Benson to provide our crew the facilities they need to support night operations. These developments are wholly dependent on the unstinting support of the communities we serve and the hard work of our dedicated Charity team and volunteers. ”

UK air ambulances started night flying in 2013 and there are currently just three with the capability elsewhere in the country. Today’s announcement follows a series of landmark milestones for the Charity, as it has adopted a number of key medical innovations. It was the first air ambulance in the UK to carry an I-Stat (portable blood analyser) machine on board and the second to carry blood. Earlier this year it reached its 15,000th mission. TVACAA has been operating with doctor-led crews for more than a year.