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Speaker Meeting February 8th 2021: Great Western Air Ambulance Charity – Joe Hughes

The Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC) is a registered charity providing the Critical Care and air ambulance service across Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset, Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire.

Joe opened by telling us that the air ambulance brings the patient to the hospital and the hospital to the patient – a flying emergency department.    He captured our interest and told us of “Chris’s Story” in two parts.  This is a simplified version.  In the first part when Chris had a cardiac arrest his wife Sue performed cardiac massage in the first instance and then a number of emergency services attended but unfortunately Chris did not survive.  Later he gave the second part – the real story.  This started the same way but in this scenario the air ambulance took over Chris’s care from Sue and he made a full recovery and now he and his wife volunteer for the service.


Although GWAAC has its own “patch” as described in the first paragraph it also crosses boundaries and other Air Ambulances reciprocate. Originally GWAAC was housed at Filton Air Base but now it has a new home near the Almondsbury Interchange and is very close to the motorway system and the A38.  They have a lovely bright green and blue helicopter and can be anywhere on the “patch” within 20 minutes.  Once they arrive at the incident they control and manage the scene.  They carry a team of 4 people: The pilot, a doctor and paramedics and they can give anaesthetics, perform surgery, deliver babies and much more.  However, they only operate during the day because flying at night requires specialist equipment and the cost is prohibitive, therefore it is cheaper by car.  They also work with the “Free Wheelers” (who have been to talk to us) who transport blood to the site and return unused blood.


So what is new?  They now have their first charity shop in Westbury-on Trym.  This opened during the Covid Pandemic and is currently closed.  They will welcome visitors once they can reopen. Watch this space for new techniques as they embark on a surgical skills course so topping up the skills of their doctors.


Finally they are dependent on charitable funds and welcome donations.  This can be a regular donation or by:

Post:  You can send a cheque or CAF Voucher payable to Great Western Air Ambulance Charity, County Gates, 3rd Floor, Ashton Road, Bristol, BS3 2JH.

Bank transfer: Email with your name and how much you would like to donate and they will send you the details.

Telephone: 0303 4444 999 between 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday and ask to make a donation or you can get their bank details from here too.


Thank you Joe for a very enjoyable and interesting talk