Air Ambulances UK is pleased to announce the 2022 Awards of Excellence winners sponsored by Airbus. The annual awards celebrate and recognise the specialist lifesaving skills and commitment of those working tirelessly within and in support of the air ambulance community. Our Independent judging panel deliberated long and hard over some very difficult decisions due to the excellent quality of nominations.
Simmy Akhtar, Air Ambulances UK CEO said “Congratulations to our 2022 Awards of Excellence winners. It has been wonderful to read and hear about all of the nominees and their fantastic contributions. Our independent judging panel had some tough decisions to make when selecting the winners and we would like to thank everyone who submitted their nominations. The air ambulance community across the UK has remained determined to provide the highest level of specialist patient care at scene despite global and national challenges. All the nominees in all categories, those shortlisted, and the winners are all part of one community which works together to be there for their local communities at their time of need. A huge thank you to all staff, volunteers and supporters in our innovative lifesaving community.”
In no particular order our award winners are:
Breaking Barriers Award 2022
Sponsored by Airbus
WINNER: Great Western Air Ambulance Charity, Vicki Brown
Since the day Vicki joined GWAAC in 2012 as a Specialist Paramedic in Critical Care, she has worked tirelessly to both promote and practice quality critical care. Her latest achievement came earlier this year when she became the first person in the country to get on the Faculty of Pre-Hospital Care (FPHC) Register of Consultant (Level 8) Practitioners by qualifying from a purely paramedic background. Since the first registration in 2015 to Vicki’s registration, there were only 70 on the list. Vicki’s achievement was covered by local and national press at the time.
Every day Vicki works to achieve something for the good of others, whether that’s forging pathways for future paramedics or sharing her knowledge with peers and trainees. Her qualifications and actions always speak of equality, diversity and inclusion, with the aim of developing and providing the best possible care for critically ill patients, be it short term on scene, or long term by upskilling paramedics or leading on research projects.
Campaign of the Year 2022
Sponsored by Lottery Fundraising Services
WINNER: Devon Air Ambulance
The Devon Air Ambulance ‘Help with all your Heart’ campaign was launched in Q2 of 2022 to achieve the following objectives:
- To raise awareness of the number of cardiac incidents assisted by DAA.
- Through a county-wide survey, understand the key blockers for public intervention during a cardiac arrest.
- Educate the public of Devon about cardiac arrest, the chain of survival and the importance of early bystander intervention.
- Build confidence and provide reassurance to the public by providing free, informative CPR/AED training sessions across Devon during Q2 and Q3 by DAA crew through the use of hard-hitting factual and informative presentations and interactive training.
- Install accessible defibrillators for public use at the majority of our retail shop locations during Q2/Q3
- Ultimately supporting their mission to deliver exemplary time-critical care
The ‘Help with all your heart campaign’ was a success both within Devon Air Ambulance and the external, public environment. Most importantly in the event of a cardiac arrest, Devon Air Ambulance have provided the know-how, reassurance and confidence to more people across Devon to support the ‘chain of survival’, ultimately the potential to save someone’s life.
Charity Staff Member of the Year 2022
WINNER: Sarita Taneja, Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex
Highly Commended: Joe Hughes, Great Western Air Ambulance Charity
Sarita has worked within the KSS Community Fundraising Team since she joined the charity six years ago. During that time she has supported thousands of fundraisers, organised store collections, managed KSS’s attendance at fundraising events and offered fantastic stewardship to individuals and groups alike. She is an extremely strong communicator, proactive, enthusiastic, empathetic and very thoughtful, which makes her highly regarded by colleagues and fundraisers.
Many patients and their families find it helps significantly with their recovery journey if they have the opportunity to engage with our crews who were involved in their care, so around three years ago, Sarita’s remit was extended to oversee KSS’s patient visits. She was the ideal candidate for this role, not only because many former patients and families were choosing to fundraise for KSS but largely because she is extremely personable with an exceptionally caring nature. She has arranged over 100 patient visits to KSS and has helped many more link up to the charity.
Charity Team of the Year 2022
Sponsored by Sloane Helicopters
WINNER: Devon Air Ambulance
Devon Air Ambulance’s Community Landing Sites (CLS) Team, all of whom are non-clinicians, have saved many lives! The Community Landing Site team were keen to minimise the risks to our staff and developed an innovative solution that is unique within the UK HEMS sector. As although many Air Ambulance services will presurvey such spaces to help them reach towns and villages so they can land in the dark, the unique feature conceived, designed and delivered by our team is a network of Community Landing Sites that have remote controlled flood lighting, that can be activated either by the HEMS Dispatch Team within the ambulance control room, or the aircrew themselves, enabling the landing areas for the helicopter to be fully illuminated.
The team’s unfaltering desire and enthusiasm, coordination, and collaboration with a range of community groups, parish councils and planning authorities has resulted to date in over 200 communities within Devon to have their very own floodlit Community Landing Site installed.
Charity Volunteer of the Year 2022
Sponsored by Tower Lotteries
WINNER: Colin King, Air Ambulance Northern Ireland
Highly Commended: Pino Gianniti, Great Western Air Ambulance Charity
Colin King could genuinely be THE MOST passionate and committed Air Ambulance NI volunteer! His interest in the air ambulance service and charity started 5 years ago when the service launched in Northern Ireland. He signed up as a Club AANI member, giving a monthly direct debit to the service as soon as the scheme opened. When Air Ambulance Nothern Ireland first surveyed their members in 2020, Colin expressed an interest in volunteering and since then the relationship and his support has literally taken off!
Highlights are that Colin
- has become the designated event photographer–in the past year took photos at the HEMS cycle event, Belfast City Marathon, AANI Club Member Day, and AANI Supercar Sunday event to name a few.
- has become their go-to mascot volunteer‘Helimed Ted’
- is key in assisting at many AANI fundraising events
- was crucial in 2021 in AANI securing a 3 year partnership with Translink, Northern Ireland’s only public transport provider of all trains and buses across Northern Ireland with a marketing and fundraising value of approximately £300k.
Part of the AANI Family
Colin has developed up a great relationship with the small but mighty team of 7 staff, he knows and is very helpful to them all. Colin regularly ensures he is able to be at AANI key activities, sometimes booking annual leave for this. He also is a life saver on many occasions in regard to practical help and support including picking up and dropping off fundraising materials for events, helping with event set up, providing quotes to encourage others support and also representing the charity at events, whether as himself or the mascot!
Critical Care Practitioner of the Year 2022
Sponsored by Zoll
WINNER: Lee Hilton, Devon Air Ambulance
Highly Commended: Pete Appleby, Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance
Lee Hilton is an Advanced Paramedic in Critical Care with Devon Air Ambulance. The past year Lee has undertaken personal and organisational development, supported the leadership team and been instrumental is setting up a volunteer responder scheme with Devon Air Ambulance, each of which is having a significant impact on the quality of patient care.
Inspired by Lee’s lead, several of Devon’s neighbouring Air Ambulance services have indicated they are keen to establish similar responder schemes in their own organisations and Lee has committed to sharing with them all his experiences and data to help these other services consider and develop the options for even more patients to be helped.
Doctor of the Year 2022
Sponsored by Leonardo Helicopters
WINNER: Ian Mew, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance
Dr. Ian Mew has worked for Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance (DSAA) for the past nine years. During this time he has been instrumental in transforming care provided to the very most injured in the South West region and he has hugely contributed to the development of injury prevention campaigns in the South West and on a national basis.
Ian has developed a fully functional critical care capability for the DocBike within the NHS governance of SWASFT. As a critical care asset, Ian is tasked on the DocBike by the regional critical care tasking desk. Within Dorset and Somerset, Ian volunteers his time to staff the DocBike, providing very frequent additional clinical critical care cover for the region and at the same time meeting with bikers at local events to spread the message of injury prevention. This model of resilience clinical provision mixed with primary prevention activity is highly innovative.
Innovation of the Year 2022
Sponsored by Aeroptimo
WINNER: Essex & Herts Air Ambulance
Essex & Herts Air Ambulance is committed to continuously improving patient care. Their critical care doctors and paramedics are highly skilled at adapting to unpredictable, time-critical situations, but they’re always looking at ways to raise the bar and improve existing skills to maximise each patient’s chances of survival and help them recover faster.
The CCC Passport has since been incorporated into the electronic RADAR governance system, allowing EHAAT’s critical care doctors and paramedics to manage their portfolio of cases and procedures and track their progress via their smartphones.
The CCC Passport has already positively impacted the wider air ambulance sector, with Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS) adopting a similar system based on the CCC Passport concept, and Dr Tony Joy said he “would not be surprised” if the innovation is rolled out wider.
Operations Support Staff of the Year 2022
WINNER: Wayne Busby, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance
Highly Commended: Christine Henry, London’s Air Ambulance
Wayne Busby’s total dedication to the maintenance of our air ambulance helicopter is unquestionable. Often working unsociable and extended hours and making himself available for consultation whenever off-shift, Wayne has enabled DSAA to maintain a high level of service availability across the region. Due to his efforts, this has enabled the aircraft and our critical care team to attend many more life-saving missions.
Wayne’s exceptional contributions to DSAA through his unstinting drive and determination to keep their helicopter available for life saving missions, for as many of the shift hours as possible, certainly deserves recognition. The admirably high levels of availability achieved with a complicated new helicopter type, are due in no small part to the exemplary way he has dedicated his time and skill set to the task.
Pilot of the Year 2022
Sponsored by Safran
WINNER: Matthew Wood, Midlands Air Ambulance
Captain Matthew Wood has worked with Midlands Air Ambulance Charity (MAAC) for 18 years, for the last decade at the organisation’s Tatenhill airbase in Staffordshire. He has always demonstrated exemplary airmanship and should be recognised for his unfaltering support of the charity, the crews he works with and ultimately, his role in giving patients the very best chance of survival and good recovery.
During his time with MAAC, Captain Wood has undertaken more than 2,300 vitally important air ambulance missions, helping the crews rapidly reach and start treatment on those critically ill and injured across the Midlands. He treats every single mission with the same dedication and passion. This has not only meant lives were saved, but hundreds of families have been kept together thanks to his diligence and commitment to helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS).
Special Incident of the Year 2022
Sponsored by Ageas
WINNER: Cornwall Air Ambulance
On 21st October 2021, Helimed01 was on route to an incident when details came through the ACANS system that a 22-year-old had fallen from a cliff after suffering a seizure. Upon reaching the patient they found she was lying face down in the water; she was unconscious and had a serious open head injury. Mum was very distressed, but indicated she was a GP and was able to give a clear handover.
In less than 20 minutes, the waves were crashing over the ledge. The patient was at serious risk of being swept into the sea. With the mother unwilling to leave her daughter, the crew were worried they could soon have two casualties.
Lisa recalled: “We were sheltering behind rocks with waves crashing over us all. We were using all our strength to hold them in place, if we didn’t they would have been washed into the sea. The conditions were getting worse, no one would have got into that water and come out alive. The power of the waves would have thrown us against the rocks. Pete and I looked at each other, we work together a lot, and we both knew what the other was thinking. We couldn’t leave them.”
Following the incident, Lisa and Pete had a debrief with the team from the Coastguard Search and Rescue who told them their actions that day “undoubtedly saved two lives”.
Lisa said: “After the incident we did reflect on the situation we were in, and it does make you think what could have happened. But when you are with a good crew mate, you trust and support each other and remain calm- that’s what got us through.”
Young Person of the Year 2022
WINNER: Ellie Smyth, Air Ambulance Northern Ireland
Jack Jinkerson, East Anglian Air Ambulance
Alfie Lowther, Essex & Herts Air Ambulance
Bradley Staples, Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance
Cory Pygott, Wales Air Ambulance
Ellie Smyth is 11 years of age and from the North Coast of Northern Ireland. Sadly, Ellie lost her father in a road traffic collision in February 2019 when she was just 8. The air ambulance Northern Ireland team were tasked to Ellie’s Daddy, but sadly he could not be saved due to the extent of his injuries. Ellie has one older brother, Harry, and along with their mum, Caroline, the family have become passionate supporters of Air Ambulance NI.
The family have attended Air Ambulance NI fundraising events, they have become official volunteers, and organised their own events. In the earlier years these events were led by Harry as the oldest of the children, however Ellie decided that she wanted to lead her own event and take more responsibility in her final year of primary school September 2021-June 2022). She came up with an event that she wanted to take the lead on organising and decided to host a party in honour of what would have been her Dad Peter’s 50th year. This was because ‘he loved a party’; and so ‘Ellie’s Ball’ was born.
The final total equated to £16,000 being raised for Air Ambualnce NI, a figure that funded almost 3 days of the service, and likely to help 6 future patients – what an impact! The auction raised almost £9,000 of this figure from 18 lots– a remarkable achievement for an 11 year old!
Lifetime Achievement Award 2022
Sponsored by Specialist Aviation Services
WINNER: Nigel Hare, Devon Air Ambulance
2022 represents Nigel Hare’s 25th year involved within the Air Ambulance Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) community. Joining Devon Air Ambulance as a HEMS paramedic in 1997, Nigel is one of the longest serving paramedics within the UK, if not the longest serving. During his 25 year career Nigel has undertaken a variety of roles, operationally, in a training and development capacity and over the last 15 years in a senior leadership role.
In his 25 years involved in air ambulances Nigel has developed innovative processes and solutions to problems not just locally but for the benefit of UK HEMS community.
Chair’s Award 2022
Patrick Peal has worked in the air ambulance sector for over 20 years and until last year was Chief Executive of East Anglian Air Ambulance. He drove a transformation that has undergone huge change and growth and achieved his ultimate ambition to introduce a 24/7 service, with the first overnight HEMS shift starting on his final day in post. The key to Patrick receiving this award surrounds his drive to bring together a spirit of collaboration and having a long-lasting positive impact in the air ambulance sector.
We would like to congratulate all nominees and to thank the judges for their hard work when facing some very difficult decisions on deciding the shortlist and selecting the winners.