Clive Dickin, National Director of the Association of Air Ambulances
The Association of Air Ambulances (AAA) is a membership body for Emergency Prehospital Care operations in the UK. They work to ensure that rapid response teams, and those on the front line in emergency networks are represented, and services maintained and improved where possible. Air ambulances play an integral role in providing prehospital emergency medical care, and it is the role of the AAA to ensure that across the UK, operations are well co-ordinated.
We spoke with Clive Dickin, National Director of the Association of Air Ambulances to get his thoughts on recent developments in the rotorcraft industry.
NM: What do you believe the main opportunities are for the rotorcraft sector over the next five years?
CD: Despite the recent slump in oil prices, I believe there is still a good reason to be optimistic about the future of the rotorcraft industry. Over the next five years, we are expecting to see an increase in the size and capability of aircrafts that deliver advanced, prehospital acute care. These new aircrafts will allow for more equipment to be carried such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation systems (ECMO) that provide respiratory support to persons whose heart or lungs are impaired.
NM: Can you outline the most important issues that air ambulance operations are currently faced with?
CD: There is a tendency for helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) to be confused with other essential forms of air operations, like casualty evacuation and search & rescue. This can cause real issues when it comes to forming appropriate regulations. As a sector, we need to focus on providing the best possible service that allows clinical staff the appropriate level of access to patients.
NM: Do you view UAVs as a threat or asset to helicopter operations?
CD: The speed of innovation is advancing ahead of legislation which has led to a number of legal grey areas with regards to the regulation and security around UAVs. Flight path disruptions that put lives at risk, unlawful surveillance and trespassing are just some of emerging trends that are more frequently appearing in the news. Advanced UAVs are readily available for anyone to purchase, experienced or not, which could lead to some serious threats to helicopter operations.
NM: How much of a role does technology play in modern air ambulance operations?
CD: Technology plays a massive role in everyday operations for air ambulance services. From new clinical equipment such as portable ultrasound and tasking applications, through to advanced lighting and night vision equipment for night HEMS.
NM: Can you outline a typical day working as part of the Air Ambulance Association?
CD: A typical day at the AAA will depend on which department you work in. An air ambulance clinician or pilot will typically go online at about 8am and won’t finish until sunset. Upon arrival at the hangar, thorough checks are made to the aircraft and equipment. Throughout the shift, on average, HEMS operators will treat around two patients a day who may have suffered a fall, experience respiratory or neurological complaints or any other trauma related injury.
About the Air Ambulance Association
The Association was established as a membership body for those organisations which form the air ambulance services in the UK. The Association’s membership which represents the majority of the air ambulance network, is made up of charities, ambulance services and the supply chain that provides this valuable lifesaving service. Members are governed by a code of conduct which formally recognises the integral part that air ambulances play in the medical service provision. The success of the air ambulance services in providing a rapid response to life-threatening situations has been clearly established.