FEATURE: London's Air Ambulance celebrates its 25th anniversary

Dr Mark Wilson spends one shift a month with London's Air Ambulance

The view from the helipad in Whitechapel

Reporter Heloise Wood gets a taste of the helicopter

Medical Director Dr Gareth Davies at the helipad

The charity currently only has one helicopter but is fundraising for another

Dr Wilson at the helipad, on top of the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel

First published in News
Last updated

London's Air Ambulance has been saving the lives of people across the capital and Kent for the last quarter of a century. Reporter HELOISE WOOD visits the helipad to learn more as it celebrates its 25th anniversary.

‘STABBINGS, people being set on fire, road traffic accidents and falls from buildings - we see them all.’

Doctor Mark Wilson is an expert at remaining calm under pressure after working for almost a decade with the London Air Ambulance.

It was created in 1989 when the Royal College of Surgeons published a report which showed too many people were dying on the streets unnecessarily.

The charity was born out of the generosity of the public and continues to depend on donations today.

The service - with its one helicopter- has treated more than 30,000 critically injured patients in the capital and surrounding areas.

News Shopper: Ambulance

It has the world’s highest survival rate for open chest surgeries on the roadside and was the first UK service to carry a senior doctor in addition to a paramedic.

Orpington-born Dr Wilson still regularly performs neurosurgery in hospital but does a shift with the London Air Ambulance once a month.

He told News Shopper: "You do get different types of incidents occurring in different types of boroughs.

"It is still the biggest cause of deaths for under 45s.

"People fundraise for all these other things and don’t realise how many people die in accidents or stabbings.

"I’ve attended stabbings in Lewisham, people being set on fire in Greenwich and people falling from a great height. I've also been to incidents in Gravesend and Dartford.

News Shopper: The helipad is on top of the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel

"We often go to Orpington and we fly over my mum’s house.

"We recently helped a man who had fallen from a two-storey house and took him to the Princess Royal University Hospital although luckily he only had cuts and bruises."

Dr Wilson explained how he was drawn to the role for many reasons.

He said: "Physiologically I find it really interesting to do this job, to work in trauma.

"But there’s also the important psychological aspect in terms of and reassuring patients.

"When someone is conscious and has suffered horrific injuries, then that is horrible but we do our best to calm them down."

"Stabbings, people being set on fire, road traffic accidents and falls from buildings - we see them all.

"But this place is like my family and I trust the team 100 per cent."

News Shopper: Ambulance

Doctor Gareth Davies is the charity’s medical director after joining as a registrar in 1993.

He has been the lead consultant at many of London’s major incidents, including the Paddington Rail Disaster and the 7/7 Bombings.

He said: "There are people who have survived serious injury in London that would not have in other countries."

London’s Air Ambulance is hoping to buy another helicopter. To donate to this appeal or for more information, visit londonsairambulance.co.uk

Incidents which London's Air Ambulance attended in 2013

Bexley
40

Bromley
47

Greenwich
63

Lewisham (fifth highest call rate out of the 33 London boroughs)
83

Gravesham
0

Dartford
34

Types of Injury

35 per cent road traffic collisions

26 per cent falls from height

23 per cent stabbings and shootings

16 per cent other (including incidents on the Rail Network, industrial accidents, drownings etc)

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