How are we tasked?
The charity is called into action around one thousand times every year. In 2014/15, we treated 869 patients. But how do we find out about ongoing incidents?
When a 999 call is made, it is handled by the local ambulance service. In Yorkshire, the North-West and Scotland, ambulance service call centre staff are trained to request GNAAS over the phone if needed. This is the same in the North-East as well, but the charity has the added benefit of a live screen linked to the region's call-handling system, meaning that our crew are constantly monitoring 999 calls from the initial few seconds of the call coming in. If they identify an incident that might require air ambulance assistance, they will call in and offer their help. If appropriate, the aircraft and crew will respond.
Why are we called?
GNAAS is charitably funded and we must therefore ensure we make the best possible use of the money available to us. With that in mind, the air ambulance activates primarily for life-threatening incidents or potentially life-threatening incidents. The latter category can include injuries that may in isolation seem relatively insignificant; a broken leg for instance. However, sometimes these injuries are sustained in a location totally inaccessible by road, maybe in adverse weather conditions, therefore exposing the patient to additional factors that can escalate their condition.
The air ambulance itself is a fast and versatile aircraft that can access patients in difficult locations and get them to hospital. However, it is the skills of the trauma team on board that really make the difference to the patient. In 2014/15, the charity had a doctor on board on 99 per cent of its shifts. This means that advanced treatments can be carried out on scene, well before the patient would ever have arrived at hospital. The specialist aircrew paramedics also bring a range of treatments with them that give the patient the best chance of recovery.