A RAPID response critical care team is expanding its service in the North-East.
The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) will increase the workload of its all-night road vehicle service from two to four nights a week in response to high demand.
The service was originally commissioned by the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) to work on Friday and Saturday nights, from 8pm to 8am, and on an on-call basis the other five nights of the week.
But after attending 459 incidents in the last twelve months alone, GNAAS has decided to fund another two nights, Thursday and Sunday.
Andy Mawson, director of operations at GNAAS, said this was the next step towards a 7-day a week all-night service.
He said: “The cars carry exactly the same team as the aircraft does with exactly the same equipment, the only difference is that we can’t carry patients in the car.
“But what we can do is deliver the same anaesthetic procedures, the same surgery, and the same blood transfusions as we do on the aircraft. We can see the difference that it's making.
“The collaboration with the ambulance service has been a success. It has allowed us to build the infrastructure needed to develop this service from the two nights.
“Ultimately, we hope to be out there seven nights a week as we can see that the service is needed. Additionally, we are looking to see how out of hours care could work in Cumbria.”
Paul Liversidge, chief operating officer at NEAS, said: “We know that having a doctor available to bring greater medical care to the scene of an incident, working alongside our crews, can make a real difference to the outcome for our patients.
“Having this resource available for a longer period will enable us to work together as a multi-disciplinary team to benefit more patients.”
To support the expansion, GNAAS has bought two fully-equipped Volvo XC90 vehicles.
Mr Mawson, director of operations at GNAAS, said: “This particular car was picked for a number of reasons, firstly for its handling and safety, that’s paramount, also the driving position is high which gives you a good view of the road, and it’s spacious enough to carry all of the kit.”
The charity is now focused on raising the additional money – expected to be thousands of pounds annually - on top of the £5.1m it already needs to generate every year to keep its helicopters flying throughout the region.
Mr Mawson said: “As ever, we need all the help we can get. Donations will be spent in our region, saving people’s lives and easing suffering. Whether that’s by the team on the helicopter or by the team on the car, it can only be done with the continued support of the public.”
To donate to GNAAS, please visit www.gnaas.com or call 01325-487263.