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Widecombe History Group Talks
A Talk on The Devon Air Ambulance Trust (DAAT) was given by Mr Mike Date.
In 1986 a young lad called Ceri from the Tiverton area had an accident and in those days there were only land operated ambulances and it took about two and a half hours to get him to hospital and unfortunately he died. His mother Ann Thomas set herself the challenge to see if an Air Ambulance could be brought into operation for Devon. The success of her determination is here for us all to see today. DAAT now run two ambulances, and as an example he told us that now, an Air Ambulance can reach that area in EIGHT minutes. What a difference that can make, particularly when you consider that 'The Medics' tell us of the "Golden Hour" - that time which can make all the difference with people who suffer stroke, heart attacks etc.
By 1992 that lady's inspirational idea had come to fruition. Devon had its first Air Ambulance. At first the ambulance was leased and was operational FIVE days a week. By 1997 it was increased to SEVEN days a week. By 2008 the DAAT owned their ambulance and there are now TWO, one flies out of Exeter and the other from High Bickington. In all they have SIX paramedics between them. The operational times are now staggered, one from early morning till 2.00 p.m. the other from 12.00 noon till evening. It is hoped that soon they will be able to operate at night.
It costs about £4.5 million a year to maintain and operate, all that money comes from public subscription. Devon is the only county at present that has TWO air ambulances, answering some 1000 incidents a year. They have skids rather than wheels on which to land, and they can land virtually anywhere and in very confined spaces, for example and area of about half a tennis court. With 10 metre blades and weighs in at about 2 ton. They carry advanced medical equipment, a pilot, two paramedics and room for a patient and his/her close relation. They can get to anywhere in the county within 15 minutes - what an asset we have.
At a speed of between 130mph and 200 mph depending on the weather condition, and with amazing manoeuvrability, and the skill of the pilots (all ex military pilots) we were made aware of the importance of this wonderful community asset. With four major hospitals in the county Exeter, Plymouth, Barnstaple and Torbay we are well catered for. They are often called on to take patients further a field, Bristol, London, Swansea for example for specialist treatment.
A couple of points that Mike emphasised:-
A. Have the grid reference of your property recorded beside your telephone.
(That is the most accurate description one can give the 999 operators)
B. More information available from www.daat.org
C. More info from 01392 466666
It is our Air Ambulance and our support is vital with such a scattered community, and as much of the county is inaccessible to land ambulances, a life saver, that anyone of us may be glad of at any time.
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