Wales Air Ambulance was launched on St David’s Day 2001. Starting the service with just one helicopter 5 days a week in Swansea. We are now the largest air ambulance charity based in UK, dedicated to Wales, and rely entirely on donations to raise £6.5mn each year to keep its four aircraft flying. The Charity now has a dedicated team of senior consultants and critical care practitioners (CCPs) on board. With the consultants, we have new kit and drugs, and also four different types of blood products – red blood cells, lyoplas and fibrinogen and PPC – to provide a level of care inspired by the military.
By taking A&E to the patient, we have shortened the time it takes to receive consultant-led treatment. More people across Wales now can be immediately transported to specialist care at facilities across Wales and beyond. ’The Welsh Model’ is becoming a familiar term as organisations worldwide engage with us to replicate our model, including the USA, New Zealand and Ireland.
Our Children’s Wales Air Ambulance helicopter in Cardiff provides a unique service for paediatric and neonatal patients throughout Wales. We have the UK’s only Helicopter Transfer Practitioners, dedicated to moving our country’s youngest patients to and from the specialist care they need. Our new Advanced Incubator systems which are electronically heated and oxygenated are unique to Wales: we travelled to Switzerland to contribute to the design of these machines with input from Welsh neonatal nurses. The transfer aircraft is different to our HEMS (helicopter emergency medical service) aircraft. Our three emergency helicopters in Llanelli, Caernarfon and Welshpool are on standby to respond to time-critical and life-threatening cases – including emergencies involving children and babies.
During August 2018 the charity took over the lease of Cardiff Heliport, in a new venture which will help to generate funds for its lifesaving service. All profits made at the Heliport will support our charitable mission and any commercial use of the site will now be helping to save lives
It is believed to be the first time an air ambulance charity has taken operational control of a commercial heliport. Based on Foreshore Road in the Tremorfa area of the city, the heliport is already home to the charity’s Children’s Wales Air Ambulance division, which provides specialist transfers for vulnerable babies and children across Wales.
Having a base in Cardiff means we now have a helicopter in all four corners of Wales (it's our first base in the south east) and it's close to the Children’s Hospital. We currently have 17 shops and a cafe, run a lifesaving lottery and community fundraise across Wales to raise the funds to keep 4 helicopters flying for Wales.
This is all thanks to the incredible donations we receive. An increasing number of businesses and community groups are visiting us at the heliport to pledge their support, so this is a very exciting time for the Charity to develop our operations at the site.
WAA are always looking at ways to improve the chances of survival and quality of life for everyone in Wales. Our vision is to become a 24-hour service, helping people in need both day and night.