Cornwall Air Ambulance 365

On-call 365 days a year, every day is different for Cornwall’s air ambulance crews.

When they arrive at the airbase each morning they have no idea what they will be faced with that day. Every year they fly around 800 rescue missions, saving vital minutes and helping save lives. 

Around two thirds of our missions are to patients with urgent medical conditions, ranging from heart attacks and strokes to respiratory and neurological emergencies. The remaining missions are to trauma injuries which can be sustained in any number of ways, from sporting accidents to road traffic collisions, and falls from lofts to industrial and agricultural accidents. There are, though, seasonal changes in the incidents our crews attend.

It’s no suprise that in the summer our crews respond to 3 times more watersport injuries than in the winter. Summer always brings a surge in incidents on Cornish beaches and coastpaths as locals and visitors alike get out and enjoy all this county has to offer.

Our crews can reach any Cornish beach in under 20 minutes from our base at Newquay. With the heavy traffic seen on Cornwall’s road network over the summer, flying over traffic jams at 120mph saves vital time. The ability to access remote beaches and areas of the coastpath that would be difficult to reach in any other way is vital in Cornwall, which has the longest coastline of any English county.

As the leaves fall and winter approaches, the nature of incidents our crews are tasked to changes again. It’s widely acknowledged that the winter sees an increase in respiratory and cardiac emergencies, but due to the highly time-critical nature of these illnesses our crews are often tasked on these sort of missions throughout the year.

Our crews do, though, see a spike in certain types of mission during the winter months. The number of road traffic collisions attended by Cornwall Air Ambulance increase by around 50% in the winter months. We also see an increase in the number of horseriding injuries and agricultural injuries we attend in winter. In fact, in the winter of 2013, we attended four times as many agricultural incidents as in the summer.

In the event of severe weather such as snow and ice, our helicopter comes into its own once again. Cornwall has over 4,500 miles of roads but only 900 miles of these are included in Cornwall Council’s precautionary salting network, meaning many communities can quickly become isolated from land-based emergency services. Of course by helicopter, these communities are no longer inaccessible.

Our crews are even on duty on Christmas Day and have been known to ‘drop in’ for Christmas Dinner kindly donated by the St Moritz - missions dependent, of course!