GREAT Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC) has announced that during 2022, the Critical Care Team received a total of 1,808 call-outs to patients across the region which includes North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset.

The air ambulance and critical care service, which is charity funded, provides emergency medical care to the most seriously ill or injured in the region.

GWAAC’s crew of Critical Care Doctors, Advanced Practitioners and Specialist Paramedics bring the expertise of a hospital emergency department to the scene of an incident. These skills can make the difference between life and death. 

GWAAC was called to 211 patients in North Somerset in 2022. That’s a call to someone in urgent need every other day on average. 82 of these patients (39% of the call-outs) suffered a cardiac arrest — an increase from 60 patients (24%) in 2021.

How GWAAC is helping people who suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: 

GWAAC attends more cardiac arrests than any other life-threatening emergency. In 2022, the crew responded to a total of 506 people suffering this medical emergency across all its regions.

Forrest Wheeler needed the help of GWAAC when he suffered a cardiac arrest while competing in a local Park Run in 2017. Luckily for Forrest, he received immediate care from bystanders at the scene.

The GWAAC crew then put him into an induced coma and rushed him to hospital. Forrest impressively completed his 100th Park Run in 2022. He said, “The GWAAC crew should give themselves a pat on the back for getting me to that milestone.”

Forrest, who now gives volunteer talks for GWAAC, often begins his story with a startling statistic: “Approximately 83 other people in the UK suffered out-of-hospital cardiac arrests on that day in April! Seven of us survived to tell the tale.”

North Somerset Times:

This is one of the reasons why your air ambulance charity is doing so much to help local communities respond to someone suffering a cardiac arrest.

Last year, GWAAC’s Great Western Heartstarters volunteers taught a record-breaking 6,469 people how to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use a defibrillator — something that can make the difference between life and death for someone in cardiac arrest.

The people trained included school pupils from years eight and nine, sports teams, and passers-by at events like the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

The increasing demand for GWAAC’s service means the charity needs to raise over £4 million a year to remain operational, yet it receives no day-to-day funding from the Government or National Lottery, relying on the generosity and support from local communities.

“2022 was another busy year for GWAAC. Success stories like Forrest’s are wonderful to hear and it’s thanks to the skills of our crew and the generosity of everyone that supports us that we are able to help people having their worst day."

Anna Perry, CEO, Great Western Air Ambulance Charity said : "If you’re passionate about people, curious about CPR and delighted by defibrillators, you might want to consider a career with GWAAC as a Defibrillator Coordinator — a new role to help educate people on the importance of publicly accessible defibrillators and get them into local communities."

GWAAC provides the critical care and air ambulance service for 2.1 million people across the counties of Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire, North Somerset, and parts of Wiltshire.