Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance is a registered charity, established to provide relief from sickness and injury for the people of Dorset and Somerset, by the provision of an air ambulance. We receive no direct funding from the Government or the National Lottery and rely on the generosity of the public for support. Our operational costs are over £4 million a year and the approximate cost per mission is £3,000.
Since our launch in 2000 we have flown thousands of missions. We are tasked as part of the normal ‘999’ emergency process by a dedicated Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) desk located at Ambulance Control (paid for by the South West Air Ambulance Charities) and can attend up to eight or nine incidents in a single day during the summer months.
Our airbase is situated at Henstridge Airfield on the Dorset/Somerset border. From there, we can be at any point in the two counties in less than 20 minutes. More importantly, the helicopter can, if required, then take a patient to the nearest Major Trauma Centre in the South West within a further 20 minutes.
Providing Critical Care
Our cohort of clinicians include a mixture of Senior Emergency Physicians, Intensive Care Consultants and Anaesthetists and Specialist Practitioners in Critical Care. All form part of the air operations crew and, as part of their role, assist the pilot with navigation and operation of some of the aircraft systems. We provide a Critical Care Team, consisting of at least a Doctor and Specialist Practitioner for each mission. The doctors are predominantly drawn from NHS Hospital Trusts across the region and the Practitioners from the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT). More recently, some clinicians have joined us from further afield, broadening the skills and experience of the team.
Our pilots are provided by Specialist Aviation Services Ltd, who operate our aircraft. They are carefully selected because air ambulance flights are typically more challenging than regular non-emergency flight services. They will have a great deal of experience in low-level operations and instrument flying.
We operate 19 hours a day (07.00am – 02.00am) using two vital resources which include our AW169 helicopter and Critical Care Car.
Code of Conduct
Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance is committed to maintaining the highest standards of fundraising behaviour and adhere to the standards set by the Fundraising Regulator. We are also a member of the Association of Air Ambulances (AAA).