AIR ambulance crews have been called to 431 incidents in Cheshire over the past 12 months – often making the difference between life and death.

The North West Air Ambulance Charity (NWAA) is celebrating two decades of service by raising awareness of its lifesaving service across the region during National Air Ambulance Week.

Between September 1, 2018 and August 31, 2019, the charity completed 2,403 missions from the top of Carlisle down to Stoke – offering critical pre-hospital medical care.

Its fleet of helicopters can fly at 150mph, saving vital minutes for urgent treatment both at the scene and at specialist centres.

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As a charity NWAA receives no government funding, and its 365-days-a-year service relies solely on public donations, corporate support and the generosity of its fundraisers and volunteers.

Andy Duncan, lead helicopter emergency medical service paramedic, said: “As our charity grows, we’re always assessing how we can take our interventions further – bringing the hospital to the patient, and saving even more precious minutes whilst lives hang in the balance.

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"It’s why we are so grateful to our supporters, whose generosity allows us to advance the service for the benefit of patients.

"We often reflect as a team that just as some of our patients wouldn’t be here without the charity, neither would we be here without our supporters.”

Last year saw crews attend 738 accidental injuries, 633 road traffic collisions, 570 medical incidents, 142 assaults, 74 sports injuries and 32 transfers.

Robin Johnson was involved in a crash with a car while cycling between Mobberley and Ashley in October.

He suffered broken ribs, a broken hip socket, vertebrae, a dislocated lower spine, hip and shoulder.

Robin received advanced interventions from one of the charity’s consultants, Dr. Ian Tyrell-Marsh, within minutes of the incident.

Robin said: “Following my accident, I feel very lucky to be alive and for the rapid response of the North West Air Ambulance crew."

There were 869 calls across Lancashire, 576 in Greater Manchester, 431 in Cheshire, 292 on Merseyside and 194 in Cumbria.

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Heather Arrowsmith, CEO, said: "This is our 20th year of service, and our seventh year celebrating National Air Ambulance Week, and I am so proud of how far we have come in such a short time.

"Our charity has expanded significantly in recent years, from introducing new clinical practices such as blood on board to the development of our volunteering programme.

"Currently, we must raise £9.5 million a year to continue our service as we are not a recipient of government funding, instead relying on the support of our amazing fundraisers, donors, volunteers and the generosity of people from across the north west.

"I am constantly humbled by the support we receive from our community, and know they are truly appreciative of our service.

"I urge anyone to consider a donation to their local air ambulance charity. No matter the amount, you will be helping to save lives, and we, and the patients affected by our service, are truly grateful.”