What is the Children’s Air Ambulance?
The Children’s Air Ambulance is a unique national service flying critically ill babies and children from one hospital to another for specialist care. It is the only dedicated neo-natal and paediatric helicopter emergency transfer and is based in the north and south of the country.
The service works alongside 10 NHS transport teams nationwide to help fly neo-natal and paediatric patients to specialist treatment. Their helicopters are equipped with specialist equipment to provide a flying children's intensive care unit.
In some cases, a child may be too unwell to fly. In these cases, the Children's Air Ambulance is able to fly a team of specialists to them. Compared to transfer by road, flight times are often around four times quicker. This means that in many cases, along with the time saved, a child's life is too.
When was the Children’s Air Ambulance established?
In December 2012, the Children's Air Ambulance took flight with one helicopter. In 2018, two new helicopters were also launched.
How does the Children’s Air Ambulance differ from other air ambulance organisations?
The Children’s Air Ambulance is the only air ambulance that offers a bespoke, clinically custom-designed flying intensive care unit for children. While other air ambulances can transfer children in emergencies, they don’t normally have the capabilities to carry all the specialised equipment needed to transfer babies and children under intensive care conditions. Local air ambulances must also be able to remain on-call in their air areas at all times for the emergency services they provide.
What type of illnesses do the children that fly with the Children’s Air Ambulance have?
They fly children with a wide range of illnesses. This includes serious infections like sepsis, respiratory difficulties and cardiac problems as well as patients with neurological complications.
Where does the Children’s Air Ambulance travel?
The service operates out of two airbases. One is based in the north of the country at Doncaster Sheffield Airport and the other is based in the south of the country at London Oxford. From these two bases the service is able to cover all of the United Kingdom.
The service works with 10 NHS clinical partner teams around the country. They are:
- CATS, Children’s Acute Transport Service - Great Ormond Street Hospital, London.
- ECMO, Heartlink Ecmo Centre - Glenfield Hospital, Leicester.
- NWTS, North West and North Wales Paediatric Transport Service – Warrington.
- SORT, Southampton Oxford Retrieval Team – Southampton General Hospital.
- Embrace, Yorkshire and Humber Infant and Children’s Transfer Service – Sheffield.
- NEST, Newborn Emergency Stabilisation and Transport Team - Bristol.
- SONET, Southampton Oxford Neonatal Transport – Oxford and Southampton.
- STRS, South Thames Retrieval Service – Evelina Hospital, London.
- WATCH, Western Acute Transport for Children – Bristol.
- COMET, Children’s Medical Emergency Transport – Leicester.
How much does it cost to fund one mission for the Children’s Air Ambulance?
£3,500 could pay for the transfer of one child with the Children’s Air Ambulance. They receive no government funding and rely solely on donations.
You can help the Children's Air Ambulance continue to provide this vital service to critically ill babies and children across the UK by voting for them this August 2019. For more information, visit www.childrensairambulance.org.uk.