Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance first went ‘live’ at 8am on March 21, 2000; 52 minutes later they were sent to their first mission. Back then, the service, which is still based at Henstridge Airfield, operated during daylight hours only in a Bölkow 105 helicopter and carried a crew of two paramedics and a pilot.
Twenty years on, the service has developed beyond recognition. The charity’s 20th anniversary sees them operating the most advanced air ambulance helicopter of its class in the world, delivering the highest possible standard of pre-hospital clinical care to the people of Dorset and Somerset for 19 hours a day.
The charity is marking its 20th anniversary with a ’20 Years By Your Side’ initiative which aims to showcase just how far they have come over the years with thanks to public support. An area has been developed on their website which gives detailed information on the history of the charity, key milestones, an insight into what happens when the air ambulance is sent to an incident and a number of heartfelt stories from the patients who have needed their help.
A commemorative edition of the charity’s ‘Beeline’ magazine has also been produced. This is available to be viewed online via the charity’s website, or supporters can sign up to receive a copy by post or email. All this information is available by visiting https://www.dsairambulance.org.uk/news/celebrating-20years
Bill Sivewright, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance CEO, said: “Public support has enabled us to do many great things, above all, it has helped us to save and improve thousands of patients’ lives. In the last six years, the number of patients in need of our service has quadrupled in size; we have been sent to over 16,000 incidents, with more than 2,000 of these being last year alone.
“This week, we have had to cancel our 10th annual Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge, which was due to take place on Sunday, May 17. This is clearly disappointing as it is the only fundraising event that we organise ourselves and raises significant funds for the charity.
“The current situation with Coronavirus will have a significant impact on our fundraising in a number of ways, however, our main priority with regards to our Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge must be to protect the health and safety of our patients, supporters, staff and the wider community, of whom we do not want to put at any unnecessary risk.
“In the last 20 years we have come so far. With the patient as our motivation and continued support from the public, we hope to be able to continue to innovate, develop and be there for the next 20 years and beyond.”
There are a number of ways to support the charity, including:
- Pledging a one-off donation (any amount that you can afford) o Online: www.dsairambulance.org.uk/pledge o Post: Cheques made payable to ‘Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance’ can be sent to: DSAA, Landacre House, Castle Road, Chelston Business Park, Wellington, Somerset TA21 9JQ. o Credit/Debit Card: By calling: 01823 669604
- Donate regularly via direct debit: www.dsairambulance.org.uk/direct-debit
- Join the Flight for Life Lottery – £1 per week, prizes to be won every week or download a lottery form from the charity’s website: www.dsairambulance.org.uk/lottery or contact the Lottery office on: 01202 849530, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Celebrate and raise funds – dedicate your birthday, wedding or other special occasion to the charity and ask for donations online, instead of receiving presents.
To find out more about the work of Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and how you can help them to be there for 20 years more, visit https://www.dsairambulance.org.uk/20-years-by-your-side.