Two years ago we started delivering whole blood for the purposes of transfusion to the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance NHS Trust. In recognition of this life saving service, The Devon Freewheelers logo has been applied to the helicopter.....
Literally dozens on lives have now been saved, lives that would have been lost in immediate replacement of blood loss couldn't have been addressed on scene by the helimed hero's on board 'Pegasus'; call sign Helimed10.
The official magazine of the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance NHS Trust is called 'Beeline' and their current issue has included a feature on the #bloodtohelimed service. The full story can be found by clicking here
The service was originally set up in 2016 after founder Daniel Lavery was approached by Dr Ian Mew, one of the Trauma Doctors on board the aircraft. Together they worked tirelessly at getting everything in order, from logistics to policy and procedures, legals and governance through to the last penny of funding needed to run the project
They both knew there needed to be a significant investment for this work, not only from each charity, but also from the point of view that even the aircraft was going to have to be adapted in some way to carry the blood. Specialist equipment was going to be needed to transport it, and even then, a car to do the transporting.
Dan had a contact at Henry Surtees Foundation, and after approaching them on behalf of the project they agreed to provide the funding, every penny of it, to get the project 'off the ground'. This was the injection Dr Mew needed, and on hearing the news, submitted the application which was approved.
Once the go ahead was given, Devon Freewheelers volunteer Maurice 'Mo' Ayling was appointed by Dan to nurse it through from paper to reality. 'Mo' took the reigns and arranged a rota of volunteers operating out of Devon Freewheelers HQ in Honiton to supply the aircraft base with blood every 48hrs, with a standby crew for immediate replenishment when it was used for critical care of a patient.
In 2017, after Mo decided to step back for a while, East Area Co-Ordinator Dave 'Cookie' Cook has been managing the project and taken it to the next stage. Running it out of Honiton was a huge demand on Devon Freewheelers with the volunteers travelling nearly 1,000 miles a week from Devon to Dorset's County Hospital in Dorchester to collect the blood. Once the blood was collected it was then onto the Airbase at Henstridge to deliver the blood, then back to Dorchester to return any unused stock back into the blood bank, then back to Devon.
Devon Freewheelers founder Daniel Lavery decided to contact local media in Dorchester and see if he could recruit some suitable volunteers locally, to run the service. After a very successful response to the campaign, 'Cookie' set about organising new rotas for volunteers and a new home for the #bloodtohelimed response car which had be donated by The Henry Surtees Foundation. With the help of the Dorset & Wiltshire Fire Service, the car was relocated to the local fire station and the service is now running far more efficiently out of Dorset.
Pictured above: Mo, Cookie and Papa Smurf as their known in house, or officially Mr Maurice Ayling, Mr David Cook and Chairman Neil Gardner. Credit DFW2016
'We are all very proud of what we do" say Daniel Lavery, "for the last nine years we have built an amazing organisation and the service Devon Freewheelers provides is now absolutely essential and pivotal to the chances of survival for so many people. It's an honour and a privilage to be able to play our part in saving lives in the South West and to have these 'Working in Partnership' agreements with so many authorities and agencies to serve the public is testimony to the pride, passion and professionalism of our team'