Our Critical Care Cars
Our specially equipped critical care cars enable us to reach more patients in urgent need
As well as our helicopter, Helimed 65, we have a fleet of critical care cars that allow us to reach more patients in need across the region. Each day, we have two operational crews on duty ready to respond:
- From 7 am to 7 pm: Our day team operate with the helicopter as their primary source of transport, and a critical care car as backup for when bad weather or maintenance prevents them from flying.
- From 1 pm to 1 am: Our late team operate and respond by critical care car, bringing the same specialist skills, equipment and medicine found on the helicopter to critically ill or injured patients in need.
Over two-thirds of our call-outs are responded to by car. Our crews carry out the same lifesaving medical interventions at the scene, whether they respond by air or by road. Our critical care cars enable our crew to be more resilient, allowing them to respond to patients in any conditions. Currently, we only fly our helicopter during daylight hours and so our cars enable us to continue responding at night time, or when the helicopter is in for maintenance.
Why do we need critical care cars?
Sometimes, the location of a patient will mean it is more appropriate and efficient for our crew to respond by road rather than by air, for example, when there are restricted suitable landing sites, or when one of our critical care cars is closer.
The model has been kitted out with additional power supplies, including split charging and mains shoreline capabilities to ensure that both the cars and the kit inside are constantly ready to respond. Our cars were procured by the South Western Air Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) with the bespoke conversion carried out by a team of fully qualified engineers at Halls Electrical Ltd.
What equipment do the critical care cars carry?
Our latest model of critical care cars, the Skoda Kodiaq, required a bespoke conversion to transform the model into a critical care car.
The 720-litre boot has been redesigned to house essential lifesaving equipment, including ventilators, oxygen, controlled drugs and other specialist equipment our Critical Care Team carry.
The front of the car has been adapted, with the infotainment screen moved to allow for a 999 response screen to be installed for the crew to receive details of call-outs and navigate to the location of the patient in need quickly and efficiently.
Having reliable appropriate and fully equipped cars is essential for us to reach and treat patients in the most effective way. The new vehicles will enable our team to negotiate tougher terrain and drive safely in challenging weather conditions to reach patients quickly and safely, particularly in rural areas.
John Wood, Former Air Operations Officer