Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance assist in evacuating Covid-19 positive patients from the Isle of Wight to University Hospital Southampton

On Sunday 17 January, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA) assisted in the transfer of a ventilated Covid-19 positive patient from St Mary’s Hospital, Isle of Wight, to University Hospital Southampton (UHS), to relieve pressure in the hospital’s heavily stretched Intensive Care Unit. The transfer was done in close collaboration with the UK Search and Rescue (UKSAR) AW189 Helicopter, based at Lee-on-the-Solent.

As Covid-19 infections on the Island have continued to rise, doctors, specialist paramedics and pilots of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance Critical Care Teams stepped in to support their NHS colleagues. The Air Ambulance charity used its aircraft, Helimed 56, to deploy the team to the Island and were then retrieved in the Coast Guard’s AW189 to fly the patient to UHS.

HIOWAA CEO, Alex Lochrane said: “We’re in this struggle together, a struggle that is far from over. It is our duty to do everything we can to ensure the safety of residents on the Island and that they get the necessary critical care during this pandemic. We are prepared to do whatever it takes in this continued challenge against Covid-19. I can assure everyone within our region and beyond: if you are in serious need of our specialist medical skills, no matter who you are, we will do everything we can to be there for you.”

As Covid-19 infections started to rise before Christmas, the life-saving Charity had been preparing to work once again with both RAF and UKSAR aircraft, after very successful collaborations, in Summer 2020, to evacuate critically-ill patients from both the Isle of Wight and Channel Islands, to hospitals on the mainland. Following a rigorous training exercise with the RAF at the Charity’s Airbase last year, the HIOWAA Critical Care Teams are well practiced at embarking critically ill, ventilated patients onto RAF Chinook, Puma and Royal Navy Merlin aircraft. This collaboration was also successfully extended to work with UKSAR rescue helicopters, a collaboration that proved invaluable last weekend.

As well as providing life-saving emergency treatment in the community, throughout 2020 a number of the HIOWAA specialist paramedics worked additional shifts in the UHS emergency department, offering much-needed support to their front line medical colleagues. As then, the Charity’s teams remain ready to provide support and their specialist skills should they be required.

In addition to supporting this new and vital transfer work, the Charity’s Critical Care Teams continue to respond to seriously ill and injured patients across the region with both the Air Ambulance and Critical Care Team Vehicles remaining operational, seven days a week, day and night.