Wellington Women’s Institute enjoyed a talk by Debbie Birtwisle, Somerset fundraising co-ordinator for the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, at their November meeting.
WI members learned that, from its base at Henstridge airfield, the helicopter can reach anywhere in the two counties in 20 minutes and, from there, all three main trauma centres in the region – Southmead, Southampton and Plymouth – as well as the specialist burns unit in Swansea. This is well within the ‘golden hour’ during which specialist treatment needs to start in cases of major injury to ensure the best outcome for the patient.
Debbie told the members that most call-outs are to traffic accidents, with cardiac arrests, falls and sporting injuries also common – most suffered by horse riders. A recent development is the transport of blood and plasma which extends the range of treatments available.
A new – larger – helicopter will be delivered early in 2017 enabling doctors and paramedics to be able to access the patient from all sides. It will also be fully equipped for night flying, extending its working hours.
At the end of the talk WI members were pleased to contribute to the charity by purchasing merchandise – especially small yellow helicopters – having heard that it costs over £2 million to keep the helicopter operating.
The meeting concluded with a sale of craft items made by members.
Next month’s meeting will be the WI’s Christmas meal which has to be pre-booked. Guests will be welcome once again in January.