Keeping our crew safe in the air - the importance of helmets in aviation - Great Western Air Ambulance Charity
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Keeping our crew safe in the air – the importance of helmets in aviation

Helmets are vital in keeping our crew safe whilst flying to patients

GWAAC’s Critical Care Team must wear a very specialist uniform to keep them safe whilst responding to people in need.

Our patients need help fast. Often the best way to reach them is with our helicopter. To be able to stay safe and communicate in the air, our crew need specialist, bespoke helmets as part of their uniform. Without these, the only option would be to attend incidents in one of our Critical Care Cars, which could add up to 45 minutes to a journey. Those forty-five minutes are critical when someone’s life is in danger.

Why do they need specialist helmets?

Noise levels within the aircraft are around 85 decibels, which can not only damage the crew’s hearing but also means that helmets need to be fitted with a special communication and intercom system to allow vital communication whilst in the air. Aside from this, crews also carry out regular engine start-ups and engine washes on the aircraft, to ensure that it is safe for duty, meaning that noise levels are heightened even more when outside the aircraft.

The new helmets required are bespoke fitted for each crewmember, to ensure comfort when wearing them for long periods of flying time, and maximum protection. The models chosen provide in-ear protection through an ear pod and internal speakers, which allows the crew to control the intercom system and block out the aircraft noise. If the in-ear speaker was to fail, then the helmet provides a backup internal speaker so that the crew could continue to communicate in flight, and the ear pods would still provide secondary protection from the aircraft noise.

These models are used industry-wide and have been utilized in battlefields and motorsports, and by other emergency services around the country.

The current environment has also meant there is a greater need for PPE to keep our crew safe whilst working on the frontline during the ongoing pandemic. Being able to provide them with their own bespoke fitted helmets is paramount to their safety at work and will make a great difference to their operations.

Aviation helmets need servicing every 10 years to ensure they are still fit for purpose, and many of GWAAC’s crew require upgrades of new helmets, costing £1,775 each. They are an expensive, but vital part of being an air ambulance crewmember – and our crew could not do their job, safely, without them.

Can you contribute to this vital equipment?

 If you wish to help keep our crew flying safe to those in need, you can help us raise enough money to purchase a new helmet for one of our crew by donating to our virtual bucket collection here.

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