Air Ambulances UK

Saving lives

When a life-threatening injury or medical emergency suddenly happens there isn’t always time to get a patient to hospital.

Rapidly getting pre-hospital lifesaving care to the patient at the scene is sometimes the only way to prevent loss of life. That’s when survival can depend upon the vital lifesaving work of the UK’s air ambulance charities.

Air ambulance charity Critical Care Team doctors and paramedics are among some of the most highly skilled pre-hospital medics in the  world. They are capable of performing lifesaving hospital-level procedures on patients at the scene in order to save lives, including administering general anaesthetic and open heart surgery.

Did you know?

In England, trauma is the most common cause of death of those aged 44 and under

Lifesaving missions

Every day across the UK air ambulance charities collectively undertake around 102 lifesaving missions, that’s around 36,720 a year.

This diagram shows the breakdown of missions attended.

Hear from survivors and air ambulance charities

Midlands Air Ambulance Charity

Great Western Air Ambulance Charity

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance

North West Air Ambulance Charity

London’s Air Ambulance Charity

Air ambulance charity mission journey

The lifesaving missions of air ambulance charities are tasked by each individual charity’s geographic NHS Trust, as part of a coordinated response to a 999 emergency call.

Bringing the hospital to the patient to save lives

Step 1

Lifesaving treatment urgently required at the scene to prevent loss of life

Step 2

Originating from a 999 emergency call, an air ambulance charity is tasked by their NHS Trust to attend a patient

Step 3

The air ambulance charity Critical Care Team is rapidly delivered to the scene

Step 4

The Critical Care Team perform advanced hospital-level lifesaving procedures at the scene

Step 5

Once stabilised, the patient is rapidly transported to the best hospital for their condition, which could be some distance away, while treatment continues

Step 6

Arrival at hospital with handover from the air ambulance charity Critical Care Team to the hospital team

Top 10 things to know about air ambulance charities

  • The UK’s air ambulance charities are recognised as leaders in pre-hospital care, setting the standard of excellence across the world
  • Air ambulance charities are frontline explorers in the innovation of critical trauma care working alongside the wider medical community
  • Each air ambulance mission depends on the highly-skilled helicopter pilot safely delivering the Critical Care Team to the scene
  • Air ambulance Critical Care Team members are officially called Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) doctors or paramedics
  • Air ambulance charities also use Rapid Response Vehicles to deliver lifesaving Critical Care Teams to patients by road in support of missions by air
  • Cardiac-related is the most common type of medical emergency lifesaving mission
  • The term air ambulance originated in France. The French military used balloons to transport injured soldiers as early as 1870
  • Taking to the skies in 1987, Cornwall Air Ambulance was the first air ambulance in the UK

Find out more about an air ambulance charity

Air ambulance charities are constantly innovating in the field of of trauma care, working alongside the wider medical community, helping to globally reduce loss of life in people with life-threatening injuries and medical emergencies.

The medical and aviation skills of the helicopter pilots, critical care doctors and paramedics and the ground support teams of the UK’s 21 air ambulance charities are world-leading.

They collectively complete over 36,720 missions a year, an average of102 missions a day.

Click on your nearest charity on the map to find out more

Become an Air Ambulances UK Member or Fundraising Partner and help air ambulance charities save even more lives every day across the UK