New Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance 'night capable' helicopter.
ONE of the most important emergency services for Island patients, the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIWAA), will be extending its capability to fly at night, starting next month.
The charity, which currently operates until 7pm, will be extending its Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) until 2am, seven days a week, with its new 'night capable’ craft.
Based in Thruxton, it will become the fourth of 20 services in England to have night capability.
Not to be confused with the work of the Children’s Air Ambulance, which runs pre-arranged transfers between hospitals, the HIWAA acts on emergency calls and can reach the Island in 20 minutes.
The service has developed considerably over the past 18 months, recruiting 18 consultants as it works towards doctor-led HEMS missions.
In 2015, the HIWAA performed 19.6 per cent of their missions on the Island, compared to 18.7 per cent the year before. Last year, 64 per cent of the Island flights were primary HEMS, 69.54 per cent of which had a doctor on board.
HIWAA chief executive, Alex Lochrane, told the County Press: "The new helicopter and extended capability will be very important to the IW. Currently, if anyone needs emergency transfer at night, they have to call the coastguard to arrange a flight and this could take up to an hour.
"We have greater medical expertise and life support equipment and are able to get a patient to a mainland hospital quicker."
One of the service’s significant advances over the past year is the helicopter now carries blood.
"Having a blood supply aboard has saved many lives because we’ve been able to give transfusions at an incident," added Mr Lochrane.
In October last year, the HIWAA also introduced the Be a 999 Hero scheme.
The first Island schools to benefit from the sessions, which teach youngsters how to use a mobile phone and dial 999, are Newchurch and EastCowes’ Holy Cross primary schools.
By July, around 10,000 youngsters, from the age of two, will have been taught.