A life-saving air ambulance charity which covers East Staffordshire now has three new rapid response cars which will go to emergencies when the helicopter is grounded.
Midlands Air Ambulance Charity has taken delivery of the three BMW X5 model rapid response vehicles, which will be part of its emergency cover, going to emergencies when the air ambulance is grounded due to situations like poor weather.
As the charity covers the largest air ambulance operating area in England, bosses felt it was imperative its air crew could rely on the very best vehicles to swiftly reach, and subsequently treat those in critical need of pre-hospital care, said a spokesman.
With assistance from its corporate partners, M6toll, the charity now has the three authority specification BMWs. One car is based at each of the charity's three airbases at Tatenhill airfield near Burton, RAF Cosford in Shropshire and Strensham Services on the M5 in Worcestershire.
Already in action, the new cars are deployed if a helicopter is grounded, for example during the hours of darkness or a period of particularly bad weather.
On average five per cent of incidents that Midlands Air Ambulance attends are carried out by the rapid response vehicles, enabling the aircrew to continue to offer early medical intervention and save lives when the aircraft is not an option, he said.
Becky Steele, air operations manager for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, said: "The X5 is a tried and tested rapid response vehicle for the emergency services. Its large interior is perfect for a bespoke medical equipment fit out, while the model's advanced capability means it is a reliable asset, ensuring our clinicians tend to incidents swiftly and safely.
"Our medical crews are trained to the highest standard and these high-tech vehicles complement our operations perfectly. Thanks to their capability and the kit on board, they are already enabling us to save even more lives across the region."
To take full advantage of the space and maximise clinician's time efficiency at the incident scene, a spokesman said that a great deal of research went into the medical fit-out of the BMWs, with the charity's health partner, West Midlands Ambulance Service.
Duplicating the medical kit on the helicopters, the BMWs are ready for action at a moment's notice. Each vehicle carries a range of kit including two response bags, a Zoll cardiac monitor, suction and ventilation equipment, leg splints, oxygen, burns packs, scene lighting and a safe for storing drugs in transit.
The vehicles retail at just under £50,000 each, but the charity managed to get the vehicles, complete with kit, for £40,000 each.
James Hodson, director of operations for Midland Expressway, operators of the M6toll, said: "M6toll has since day one proudly supported Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, donating more than £270,000. Roads are our business and we know that most of the work Midlands Air Ambulance Charity has to do concerns road traffic accidents, therefore understand the vital importance of the service they provide.
"The Rapid Response Vehicles have been kitted out with a 'Tag', allowing free use of the M6toll enabling their teams to reach incidents across the region even quicker."
The charity's new vehicles were part-funded by corporate partner, M6toll, and a grant giving organisation, and have been supported by the West Midlands Ambulance Service, BMW Group, Carnation Designs, Design, Woodway Engineering, Wilker Vehicle Conversions, VUE CCTV, Mansfield Group, Body Repair Centre and Tarrafix.
What is the Midlands Air Ambulance charity?
The charity is responsible for funding and operative three air ambulances covering Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands, making it the largest operating region in the UK. It also provides secondary cover to the surrounding areas, such as Warwickshire and mid Wales.
Crews have responded to more than 48,000 emergencies since 1991, which averages at 2,000 per year.
The charity's three aircraft each carry a crew comprising of a pilot, two paramedics or flight doctors plus full life-support medical equipment. Operating from strategically located regional airbases, 90 per cent of the region is within reach within eight minutes.
If a patient reaches hospital within the Golden Hour, which is 60 minutes after their injury, their chances of survival are dramatically increased.