It's Yours, It's A Charity, Keep It Flying!

Happy 7th birthday to GWAAC


Staff and volunteers at Great Western Air Ambulance are celebrating a very special birthday.

GWAAC has been proving lifesaving critical care to those who need it the most for seven years.

The charity was formed in 2008, and the crew attended their first mission on Wednesday, June 3, 2015.

They were called to a road traffic collision on the M5, at junction 21 for Weston-super-Mare.

Since that day the team, who are based at Filton airfield, have attended 14,323 missions.

Of those 4,251 were by helicopter and 10,072 by one of the rapid response vehicles.

GWAAC fundraising manager Emma Carter said: “We are thrilled to be celebrating our seventh birthday.

“I want to say thank you to everyone involved with the charity since we launched for their hardwork and dedication.

“The number of missions we have attended since 2008 show just how crucial the air ambulance is.”

GWAAC provides one of the busiest air ambulances in the UK, serving the counties of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire, North Somerset and parts of Wiltshire.

It is estimated that one patient in five – a patient otherwise expected to die – survives.



Keen horse rider Mary was out for a ride with two friends near Nailsea, something she had done many times before. However this time something spooked her horse, and she was thrown off, landing underneath it.

Mary was knocked unconscious, and airlifted to hospital by the critical care team. Luckily she had no broken bones, but she had concussion symptoms for two weeks, and her memory of the incident is patchy.

She said: “The air ambulance crew were very kind to me, and I am so grateful to them for looking after me. My horse was also fine and I was soon back in the saddle again. I’m still out riding with my friends thanks to everyone at GWAAC.”


One sunny day in July Ian Taylor headed out on a walk to a country pub in Gloucestershire. However the day didn’t end well as he suffered a cardiac arrest. A friend began CPR before the GWAAC helicopter arrived, with critical care paramedic Pete Sadler and Critical Care Doctor Kieron Rooney on board.

Ian was seriously ill, too ill to be airlifted. The team performed critical care at the scene, and then transported him to the BRI in Bristol by land ambulance.

Ian has gone on to make a full recovery, and on the second anniversary of his cardiac arrest he climbed Snowdon with his wife Cathy.

He said: “Without the critical care support I received from the Great Western Air Ambulance, I wouldn’t be here today. It’s amazing to think such a vital service is actually a charity, so in addition to the medical team, thank you to everyone who generously donates to the organisation, which made my invaluable care possible.”


It was a normal walk to Woodborough Primary School in Pewsey for Finlay and his mother Niki when the empty school bus pulled away from the school and in to the two of them. The driver claimed to have accidentally hit the accelerator instead of the brake, hitting Finlay and causing such catastrophic head injuries that he died at the scene. Niki was caught up under the wheels and dragged up the road, causing extensive injuries.

Niki was flown to Frenchay Hospital by Great Western Air Ambulance Charity. After many weeks in hospital she managed to return home to her family.

Niki said, “I am still receiving treatment for my injuries, both physical and psychological. I sustained massive pelvic and leg injuries and nearly died. I have been told by one of the consultants at Frenchay I would have died had it not been for the helicopter and the fact that the paramedic/doctor put on the binders so well.”


In 2012 Daniel Brackston’s life changed completely when he was involved in a serious car accident in Colford.

He had to be cut out of his car and was airlifted to hospital by GWAAC. He suffered injuries to his head, and a broken femur, together with a bruised lung and multiple lacerations,

Daniel was in a coma for just over four days, but, thanks to the care he received, he was back to full time work after nine weeks. Today Daniel is fully fit with just a few scars and a titanium rod in his leg.

His father Shaun said:  “It really is a miracle that Dan survived but he is a very determined young man. We are very proud of him, and also eternally grateful to everyone who helped save his life.”

Despite his legs being held together by metal pins Daniel has run two half marathons in aid of GWAAC, and will be completing his third in August with Shaun.


Pat Kemp felt perfectly well when she left work, but just one junction away from Swindon on the M4 she had a brain haemorrhage and swerved her car off the road and into a tree.

Doctors told her family that one in three people who suffer one do not even make it to hospital, and her condition was touch or go.

However, thanks to the critical care team from Great Western Air Ambulance Charity she survived.

CCP Neil Hooper drove to the scene in one of our RRVs, and administered critical care at the roadside. He then accompanied Pat to Frenchay hospital in an ambulance, where she stayed for 17 days.

Two years on and she still suffers the occasional pain in her head, but is slowly on the mend.

Pat said: “The team do a tremendous job, for which we and lots of other people are most grateful. Without them  I would have died as it was touch and go for the first few days I was in Frenchay whether I would survive or not, as one in three that have a subarachnoid brain haemorrhage apparently don’t even make it to hospital let alone whilst they're driving and on a motorway. I was extremely lucky and am so grateful to Neil for saving my life.”


Alister Sayer was at his first day of work on the Bath Riverside housing development when he popped to Sainsburys to get some lunch. As he walked through a car park, he was smashed into by a speeding car, suffering horrific injuries to his legs.

Following the accident Alister was airlifted to the new trauma centre at Southmead Hospital. He was the first patient to be airlifted to the unit, and the first trauma call for the department.

had broken two bones in his right leg and one in his left and spent two weeks in hospital after undergoing surgery. One of his legs swelled so much, and the circulation was so bad, doctor’s feared drastic surgery was needed and could have left him permanently disabled. However thanks to his determination, and the skill of the people who treated him, he is walking again.

Alister said: “You never think you will need their services, but if someone in your family was hurt you would want these guys to help them. They do an amazing job.”

His mother Emma said: “This makes me realise how crucial the air ambulance is, without it and the team on board the outcome could have been completely different.”


Three-year-old Alfie Farr was happily playing with his sister at his home in Bristol when he suffered a seizure.

The youngster was completely unresponsive, and so his worried mother rang 999.

A land ambulance attended, but after two failed attempts to bring him round Alfie stopped breathing.

The GWAAC critical care team were called, and put him into an induced coma before escorting him to hospital.

Alfie spent 4 days in the Bristol Children’s Hospital before being allowed home.

He has made a full recovery.

His mother Rebecca said: “When we were told that the HEMS crew were on their way we instantly knew it was bad. I truly believe that if it wasn’t for this fabulous team Alfie would not be with us today. And we cannot thank them enough for all they have done!”



  • GWAAC has been providing an air ambulance service for 2.1 million people across the counties of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire, North Somerset and parts of Wiltshire for seven years;


  • Since upgrading to our new helicopter, the EC135, in October 2014 our costs have risen, and we now need to raise £2million a year to stay operational;


  • Upgrading to the EC135 has meant that the advanced critical care service that operates in the region is now carried out in a helicopter that is compatible with the high standards of medical care and interventions that the team provide;


  • The GWAAC critical care team consists of a highly trained and experienced Critical Care Paramedic and Doctor, who bring the skill and expertise of an Accident and Emergency Department to the patient;


  • In 2014 the Critical Care Team attended 1,385 jobs. It is estimated one in five people who would otherwise die are saved by the actions of the GWAAC clinical team;


  • On average, 20 per cent of incidents that GWAAC attend involve providing emergency care and transfer for children and babies under the age of 16;


  • For more information about GWAAC, and to donate click HERE;


  • Follow GWAAC on Twitter @GWAAC and Facebook Great Western Air Ambulance Charity for updates; and


  • And if you spot their helicopter while out and about tweet photos using #HM65 hashtag.

July 2014

The helicopter, which is easily spotted thanks to the bright green design, landed on the school playing field at the end of May.

Often the GWAAC pilot has to land the helicopter a distance away from the patient, as a certain amount of space is needed.

In this case pilot John Rigby decided the school was the most suitable location.

GWAAC is based in Filton, but it doesn’t just cover Bristol.

The crew attend incidents in Bath, North Somerset, Gloucester and parts of Wiltshire, so it really is your local air ambulance.

In May GWAAC attended 12 jobs in the Somerset area, including Nailsea, Weston-super-Mare, Frome and Chew Magna.

On board the helicopter is a critical care team consisting of a paramedic and a doctor.

Most of the cases involved cardiac arrests, but there were also calls to road traffic collisions, and falls from more than 20ft.

GWAAC is one of the only air ambulances to work to the Critical Care Model, which means rushing a highly trained critical care doctor and paramedic to the scene.

Essentially it is a flying accident and emergency department, bringing the hospital to the patients.

Within five minutes of the crew receiving a 999 call the helicopter is in the air, and within 20 minutes it can be anywhere within the region that it covers.

Last year there were 1,544 call outs, and on average the crew attend more than 100 incidents a month.

But despite this GWAAC receives no funding from the government or the National Lottery, and relies entirely on the generosity of those in the community to raise the £1.75million it needs every year to keep the helicopter in the air.

There are many ways that people can support the charity, from volunteering at charity events, signing up to the GWAAC lottery, or holding their own fundraising event.

Since I started working for GWAAC in May I have been amazed by the crew, and the work that they do.

The paramedics and doctors are heroes, using their expertise and skills to save lives across the region.

They often work long hours and go above and beyond the call of duty to help those who desperately need it.

Imagine if there were no air ambulance. It's something that doesn't bear thinking about.

So I will be jumping from a plane at 10,000 feet to support this amazing charity, and I hope people will sponsor me.

Then everytime you see that helicopter in the sky you will know that you have done your bit to help keep it flying, ensuring more lives are saved!

Click HERE to help me raise monies, thank you.

And click HERE To find out more about the GWAAC or call 01179 699344.

Laura Tremelling

GWAAC PR and Media Officer



  • At the end of their shop customers at Waitrose supermarket in Nailsea are given a green token to put in an in-store box for the good cause they would like to support. Each month every Waitrose branch donates £1,000 to be shared and the more tokens a cause gets the bigger the donation they receive. Three new good causes are chosen each monthly. Proving to be one of Nailsea’s most popular good causes GWAAC received £835 when it was picked earlier this year – also the supermarket auctioned a specialist wine and cheese party at the town centre Christmas lights and this helped add even more monies for the charity. Nationwide since its launch in 2008 the 'community matters' supermarket scheme has donated £14 million to local charities chosen by its customers. If you are a local charity or non-profit organisation and would like to apply or request any voluntary help, forms can be collected from the High Street store and handed in at the Welcome Desk for the attention of Denise Turton.