VIDEO: Looking back at Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s history in its 30th year

As Wiltshire Air Ambulance celebrates its 30th birthday this Sunday, the charity has produced a short video looking back at its history.

Archive television footage, courtesy of ITV News and BBC Points West, is included in the video.

The three types of helicopter used by Wiltshire Air Ambulance – a Bolkow, an MD 902 and the current Bell 429 – all feature.

Also referenced are innovations, including being the first air ambulance to fly at night in the UK, carrying blood products on board and critical care skills training of its paramedics.

More recent milestones included in the video are the charity’s move to its state-of-the-art airbase at Semington, near Melksham, and securing its own Air Operator Certificate for the Bell 429 helicopter.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s history is unique in the air ambulance industry because when it began it shared a helicopter with Wiltshire Police.

The idea for a joint emergency services helicopter originated in 1988 when a temporary helicopter hired by Wiltshire Police to use for its summer solstice operation at Stonehenge was used to airlift a woman who was seriously injured in a road traffic collision on the A350 at Beanacre, near Melksham.

A full-time joint air ambulance and police helicopter began operating on 15 March 1990, based at Wiltshire Police headquarters in Devizes.

The joint helicopter partnership came to an end in December 2014 with the establishment of the National Police Air Service.

This resulted in a new era for Wiltshire Air Ambulance and on 9 January 2015, it became a stand-alone air ambulance, using a Bell 429 helicopter.

VIDEO: Looking back at Wiltshire Air Ambulance's history in its 30th year
David Philpott

David Philpott, chief executive of Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said:

“The history of Wiltshire Air Ambulance is fascinating and we hope our supporters enjoy the video which looks back at how our service and charity developed.

“We were one of the earliest air ambulances in the UK and are proud to serve Wiltshire and surrounding counties. Our strapline is ‘funded by you, flying for you’ and throughout our 30 years, we have received tremendous support from the community which has enabled our crews to save countless lives.

“We rely on donations to provide our essential Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) and with the help of our supporters we want to be here to serve the next generation of people.”