Wales Air Ambulance: Extra hours bring road crash work

Wales' latest air ambulance The three bases work a staggered shift to provide 14 hours of cover each day

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Longer hours for Wales' air ambulances have led to a "significant" number of rescues at road crashes that crews would not have attended otherwise, the charity has said.

The service introduced a 14-hour operation from 7am-9pm this month, starting an hour earlier and finishing three hours later than usual.

Many missions have been early morning and late evening road crashes.

Wales has three helicopters - based in Swansea, Welshpool and Caernarfon.

CALL-OUT FACTS

  • 4,100 of the 18,000 calls were to road crashes
  • 22% involved motorcyclists
  • 12% were to cyclists
  • 6% were to pedestrians
  • 2,100 calls were to sports and leisure injuries
  • 670 calls were to horse riders
  • 20% were to injuries on rugby pitches

SOURCE: WALES AIR AMBULANCE

Since 1 September, its three bases have been working a staggered rota seven days per week.

Caernarfon crews work from 7am-7pm, the Swansea base from 8am-8pm and Welshpool from 9am-9pm.

For the past 12 years, since its launch on St David's Day 2001, the service has operated from 8am-6pm.

The longer hours follow a six-month trial at the Welshpool base.

A Swansea crew member said: "We've completed a significant number of missions that we would not have been able to do without the extended shifts.

"In particular, we are attending serious trauma incidents like road traffic collisions that are happening first thing in the morning and later at night as people head home.

"Already we are seeing that there are still patients that need us and we can now help them by being on standby for rapid activation for longer."

Night flying

Last month the emergency service recorded its 18,000th rescue when a 57-year-old man who had suffered a brain haemorrhage was airlifted.

Earlier this year, it began trialling night flying from the charity's Welshpool base.

The air ambulance service said its Eurocopter EC 135 helicopter used in the trial is the newest and most advanced air ambulance in the UK.

The service, which answers 2,000 calls a year, costs £6m a year to run - all raised from charitable donations from the public.

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