We like to imagine we might be able to guess what it feels like to save a life or even just to ease someone's pain – but add to that a perilous, dramatic aerial entrance and it becomes next to impossible. The elite, small teams of the UK's air ambulance services, however, do it multiple times a day – but according to them every rescue is a unique, rewarding and pressured experience with a life hanging in the balance. Air Charter Service also charters air ambulances where paramedics and doctors are able to assist across the UK and its borders when necessary.
Needless to say, sometimes people don't plan out their emergencies in a timely manner, which means that a single local rescue team needs to be in virtually several places at once. There's seldom time to take a break. During the afternoon of 10th May 2015 the Coniston Mountain Rescue team was asked to attend two incidents. Press officer, Andy Simpson, shares the tales:
"The first was to assist a gentleman who had become unwell while walking up the Hole Rake track above Coppermines Valley [Lake District National Park]. He was part of a rambling group who directed the team to his location. Two Land Rovers were deployed quickly and the casualty was soon found and made comfortable. He was put on a stretcher about half a mile down the path to a waiting North West Air Ambulance for his onward journey to Lancaster Royal Infirmary. Fourteen members attended this call out, which took an hour and 45 minutes to complete."
But that wasn't the end of the day…
"The second incident of the day came after the North West Ambulance Service asked for assistance following a serious motorcycling accident in Grizedale Forest. Two riders had collided with one another and both had sustained serious head injuries." says Andy.
"We assisted with the evacuation of their casualty from the site of the collision to the helicopter waiting in the field near the Visitors' Centre.
Both male riders, believed to be in their 20s, were anaesthetised by the GNAAS doctors. After being given blood, one man was flown to Royal Preston Hospital while the other casualty was taken to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough. Both men were in a critical condition when they arrived at the hospital. A total of 15 Coniston Team personnel responded to this incident, which took two and a half hours to complete."
An air ambulance medic's job may seem to be a high-pressure, low-reward position, where any mistake on the part of the paramedic could be fatal. However, many of the doctors who are part of the air ambulance teams are seasoned in trauma care and many of them also volunteer with other emergency services when they are not working shifts with their respective air ambulance teams. "A hero's job is never done," some might say. This is why many, if not all of the air ambulance teams operate 365 days of the year to make sure that as many lives are saved as possible, and as many people kept from harm. With that in mind, maybe the next time you see an air ambulance team member you should ask him how his day was. He may have a really great story to tell you.