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GNAAS expands night-time service in Cumbria

Written by on 07/03/2023

The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) is one step closer to providing critical care 24/7 in Cumbria after expanding its all-night rapid response vehicle service to four nights a week.

GNAAS initially launched their night-time service in the region in May 2021, covering Friday and Saturday nights from 8pm to 8am, when the charity’s air ambulances do not fly.

The car carries the same life-saving equipment as its airborne counterpart and is staffed by a highly skilled paramedic and doctor team who can deliver blood, anaesthetic procedures, and other advanced treatments to critically ill or injured patients.

Last year GNAAS’ critical care team was deployed 154 times on a rapid response vehicle to incidents in Cumbria, including road traffic collisions and cardiac arrests.

The charity has been working hard to fund the additional nights, and recently expanded to cover Thursday and Sunday nights, meaning they are getting closer to providing a 24/7 service in Cumbria.

GNAAS has operated an overnight service in the North East for several years and at the start of 2023 they began working every night of the week so that no matter when someone is in need, the team are able to respond.

David Stockton, chief executive officer at GNAAS, said: “Becoming a 24/7 service has been a long-term goal of the charity, and a personal ambition of myself, so we’re very proud to continue that journey.

“Our team can now deliver a high level of pre-hospital care to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the North East, and we are now covering seven days and four nights in Cumbria, with an expectation to add more evenings over the coming months.”

To facilitate the service expansion, the charity has recruited additional paramedics and specialist doctors who are now working through the charity’s training and evaluation process.

It takes between six and nine months to provide them with the skills, education and support needed to work at GNAAS, concluding with a sign-off day where they are assessed on their ability to work without a supervisor.

The charity also recently added a new Volvo XC90 to their fleet, which was funded by Keswick fundraiser ‘Max Out in the Lake District’.

Kerry Irving and his spaniel dogs Max, Paddy and Harry have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for various charities over the years after gaining a huge international following on their ‘Max Out in the Lake District’ social media pages.

Sadly, Max passed away in 2022, but to honour his legacy, Max’s pawprint is proudly displayed on the new rapid response vehicle.

Kerry said: “Helping others in need is the greatest gift we can all give, and our community-funded critical care vehicle given to GNAAS will help thousands of people in their hour of need.”

Andy Mawson, director of operations at GNAAS, added: “Providing a professional and high-quality critical care team in Cumbria is a huge challenge, especially at night.

“We have been able to develop the systems and techniques to allow safe and effective care and transfers at night, to ensure the people of Cumbria have the best possible chance of reaching definitive care in the event of critical injury or illness.

“So due to the size of Cumbria it may be that a patient has reached an A&E department before our team can reach them, so we have expanded our practice to even higher levels to ensure care that is begun in hospital can be maintained in the event of a transfer to the North East.”

With the expansion of the service to cover four nights, the team will be responding to even more incidents, but this achievement is only sustainable with the continued support of the public.

GNAAS does not receive government funding and needs to raise £7.7m a year to remain operational.

The charity recently launched its ‘Ready for Anything’ appeal, focused on the equipment, skills and expertise needed to save a life. To find out more about the appeal visit: gna.as/readyforanything