London’s Air Ambulance, also known as London HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service), operates an air medical service dedicated to responding to serious trauma emergencies in and around London. Using a helicopter by day and road vehicles by night, it functions as a mobile emergency department in life-threatening, time-critical situations.
The service was founded in 1989 and was the first in the UK to carry a senior doctor in addition to a paramedic at all times on a helicopter, introducing a system that reduces the death rate in severe trauma by 30–40%. From its base at the Royal London Hospital the helicopter can reach any patient inside the M25 within 15 minutes.
Graham Hodgkin, chief executive of London’s Air Ambulance, said: “Road traffic collisions continue to account for a large proportion of our work and sadly we are treating an average of six pedal cyclists hit by vehicles each month.
“We treat some of the most critically injured people in London and unfortunately one of the sickest patient groups are these cyclists who have been injured by large vehicles.
“Making London’s roads as safe as possible for cyclists and other road users is a daily challenge for the Mayor. We hope the proposed new measures will help to reduce the number of casualties and will be following these plans with interest.”
Between January and August this year its emergency teams – a trauma doctor and paramedic – had treated 45 cyclists seriously injured in road collisions. The service also dealt with 133 pedestrians and 78 motorcyclists out of 1,144 patients helped since the start of the year.
The Royal London hospital is part of Barts NHS trust, whose Chief Executive has already backed the the new ‘Crossrail for bikes’ scheme.
Chief Executive of London’s Air Ambulance