London’s Air Ambulance operates an MD902 Explorer twin engine helicopter, one of the most identifiable in the world. This is one of a new generation of aircraft chosen for its safety features which include no tail rotor, important in an urban environment. It has been specially adapted for its purpose, to enable patients to be treated to the standard of an intensive care unit in flight.
From it's helipad at the top of the Royal London Hospital, the Helicopter can reach the furthest points of the M25 within 12 minutes. Each flying team consists of a senior trauma doctor, a paramedic, two pilots (one of whom acts as a navigator), and an observer (usually a doctor or paramedic completing their first month with London's Air Ambulance, training for their role).
The Helicopter’s main use is to get this specialist trauma team to the patient in the quickest possible time – the team can be airborne within 2-3 minutes of receiving a call. The doctor and paramedic will treat the patient, performing operations and procedures that are normally only seen in the hospital emergency department. Once the patient is stabilised they will be taken to the nearest hospital best equipped to deal with the injuries. The helicopter is equipped to take a patient to the hospital but this is not always the case. Often the patient will travel by London Ambulance Service accompanied by the air ambulance team.
The Helicopter’s medical team is equipped with a substantial range of drugs, emergency surgical kits, monitors and other equipment 'a mini Accident & Emergency Department (A&E) of their own' so that they can begin treatment straight away.
The Rapid Response Cars
When the Helicopter is offline – either at night when it is too dangerous to land in London or if there are dangerous weather conditions – the operation is supported by a rapid response car team which ensures 24 hour care to London.
London’s Air Ambulance is a registered charity which runs London’s only helicopter emergency medical service, providing life saving care to victims of serious injury throughout London - serving the 10 million people who live, work and commute within the M25.
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