Children’s Air Ambulance completes maiden flight

The Children’s Air Ambulance (TCAA) has completed its first patient transport mission on 11 May, transferring a one-day-old baby boy from Scarborough Hospital to Hull Royal Infirmary.

Following the child’s birth from emergency caesarean section, it was later revealed that his windpipe was not joined correctly to his stomach and so emergency surgery was required.

TCAA lead pilot, Shaun Tinkler, said: ‘ We estimated that by road this journey would have taken over an hour. Our total flight time was only 15 minutes with the patient onboard. As we flew along, we could see congested roads and the difficulty a land ambulance would face, especially if it needed to travel in rush hour traffic. It’s cases like this where every minute can, and does, count.’

On arrival at Hull Royal Infirmary, the boy underwent a trachea-oesophageal fistula operation and is now recovering well with no expected complications.

Alex Toft, director of operations and clinical services for TCAA, said: ‘We are incredibly proud of The Children’s Air Ambulance. This week sees the culmination of 18 months of hard work and dedication from our teams to get this aircraft off the ground. We are a bespoke helicopter transfer service, which will be used to fly children to specialist hospitals so that they can receive the treatment they so desperately need. Taking a child out of the controlled environment of a hospital adds risk–we want to help minimise that risk.’

The Children’s Air Ambulance has come under criticism in recent months over the way it has raised funds, with further complaints targeting its lack of patient transfers so far.

Further to this, a recently leaked NHS report suggested a whole network of air ambulances would be needed to provide such a national air transfer service for children.

It is hoped that this maiden voyage will be the first of many to come. Andy Williamson, chief executive officer of TCAA, has added that the service will ‘make a significant impact on the survival and recovery of hundreds of youngsters.’

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 20 May 2013.

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