Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA) are collaborating with HM Coastguard, the search and rescue arm of the Maritime Coastguard Agency, in order to safely transfer time critical patients with an unknown Coronavirus status from the Isle of Wight to hospitals on the mainland.

Utilising the larger Maritime Coastguard Agency aircraft (an AW189), Doctors and Specialist Critical Care Paramedics from the life-saving Charity can continue to safely treat critically ill and injured patients whilst transferring them to hospital. The front of the aircraft is sealed off to protect pilots, who cannot wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) whilst flying, from any airborne droplets, and the back of the aircraft is fitted out with a washable decontamination lining. In addition, the larger aircraft gives the Charity the ability to carry ventilated patients on board.

HIOWAA CEO, Alex Lochrane, comments:

“The current health crisis facing the country has presented us with new opportunities to collaborate and innovate with others. I am incredibly proud of our crew, whose willingness and flexibility has meant that we can continue providing the best level of critical care to our region whilst also providing a vital lifeline to the Isle of Wight.”

Following a joint training exercise at the Charity’s Airbase in Thruxton, HIOWAA and the Maritime Coastguard Agency, alongside the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service, were called in to action for their first joint mission last week to attend to a patient in Bembridge, Isle of Wight, who had suffered a serious head injury.

Dr Bentley Waller, who was on scene for the first joint missions, says:

“This was a fantastic example of interagency working. We came together seamlessly to form one team, allowing us to deliver the right care to the patient at the right time, despite the challenges posed by the current Coronavirus pandemic.”

In the meantime, the Charity’s Critical Care Teams continue to respond to critically ill patients across the region, with both the Air Ambulance and emergency response vehicles remaining operational seven days a week, day and night. Full PPE has been made available to the Charity’s Doctors and Specialist Critical Care Paramedics in order to ensure that risks of infection are minimised when they attend the scene of an incident.