Thursday, 17 June 2021

Henley Rotary Club

ON February 6, members were very pleased to welcome Ruth Dunkin, head of community and events at the Thames Valley air ambulance.

She has worked with the air ambulance for two years and bought to the Thames Valley charity many years of experience as a fund-raiser for many charities.

During a very informative talk, Ruth explained how the role of the charity has changed in recent years.

The emphasis is now on taking the hospital to the patient/casualty rather than transporting the casualty to hospital by air.

This means that from the time the fully experienced doctor and support team arrive at the scene the patient can receive the level of medical care which he or she would receive at an accident and emergency department.

The doctor will frequently accompany the patient to the hospital in a land ambulance, continuing treatment en route.

This is achieved because the recently acquired new helicopter and emergency response vehicles carry the latest life support equipment, including a compact chest compressor and ultrasound equipment as well as blood supplies and fresh frozen plasma.

Night-time operations are now also undertaken until 2am in conjunction with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight air ambulance.

The emergency response vehicles supplement the helicopter service or can attend emergencies when the helicopter cannot be deployed.

The helicopter can airlift casualties to hospital where the location of an accident is inaccessible to road vehicles.

Although road traffic accidents constitute 40 per cent of call-outs, equestrian accidents account for almost eight per cent and casualties can often be in inaccessible locations.

The increased sophistication of the service has also seen an important change in the relationship of the air ambulance with the NHS.

The charity is taking more responsibility for its own clinical governance and managing and employing its clinical staff.

It is in the course of acquiring its own accreditation from the Care Quality Commission.

The Thames Valley air ambulance is financially independent from the NHS and is billed for any staff supplied by the NHS. It does not receive any government support, national or local.

This invaluable and lifesaving service continues to rely solely on public and corporate support.

Ruth concluded by thanking the club, which has donated more than £11,000 in recent years, for its support.

President-elect Peter Thomson was able to tell Ruth that half of the proceeds of the club’s charity auction would be donated to the air ambualance.

A vote of thanks was proposed by Barry Prior and the members showed their appreciation with enthusiasm.

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