WILTSHIRE Air Ambulance undertook 1,238 missions in 2020 – a record number since the charity became a stand-alone air ambulance in 2015.

Despite two national lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and now a third to begin 2021, the need for Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s life-saving service has never been more crucial.

David Philpott, WAA's chief executive, said: “Our aircrew has continued to operate on the front line throughout the pandemic, responding to incidents during a very challenging year – and 2021 looks like being just as difficult.

“We had to alter our operations suitably to ensure we could still be there for the people of Wiltshire and surrounding areas, including Bath.

“With all of our major events cancelled and community fundraising impacted by the pandemic, this has clearly had an effect on our income.

“That said, we have been taken aback by the response from our kind donors, who have surpassed all expectations for donations received in the past 12 months. For that, we are so grateful.”

Of the 1,238 missions last year, 568 were by helicopter and 670 were in the Rapid Response Vehicles (cars).

The largest number of call outs were to cardiac emergencies - 383 - almost one in three missions, while 208 were to road traffic collisions - around one in six missions and a drop of two per cent on 2019 missions.

The team were called to a greater number of falls (178) in 2020, up by four per cent. The figures also include 71 medical collapses, 64 assaults and 64 sporting injuries, of which 34 were horse riding accidents.

A total of 108 incidents involved children, while more than one in three missions - 430 - took place at night.

The largest number of incidents Wiltshire Air Ambulance responded to were in the Swindon area - 194.

Other areas in Wiltshire where the team were called to were; Amesbury - eight; Bradford-on-Avon - 19; Calne - 31; Chippenham - 79; Corsham - 25; Cricklade - seven; Devizes - 57; Highworth – six; Marlborough - 41; Malmesbury - 26; Melksham - 60; Mere - one; Pewsey - eight; Royal Wootton Bassett - 26; Salisbury - 96; Tidworth - 10; Tisbury - one; Trowbridge - 66; Warminster - 40 and Westbury - 28.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance were also called to incidents in neighbouring counties, including 80 in Bath, as well as Berkshire, Bristol, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Somerset, plus the Isle of Wight and Wales.

On 277 occasions the charity either airlifted or land assisted patients to hospital, including 86 to the Royal United Hospital in Bath and 65 to Great Western Hospital in Swindon.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance is a charity and receives no regular direct funding from the Government or National Lottery grants. Each year the charity needs to raise £3.75 million to continue flying and saving lives.

Breakdown of incidents by month:

January – 103

February – 86

March – 79

April – 68

May – 87

June – 121

July – 126

August – 126

September – 115

October – 90

November – 114

December – 123

Breakdown of incidents by category:

Cardiac – 31 per cent (35 per cent in 2019)

Other medical conditions, including collapses and strokes – 17 per cent (17 per cent)

Road traffic collisions – 17 per cent (19 per cent)

Falls – 14 per cent (10 per cent)

Sports (including horse riding) – 5 per cent (5 per cent)

Other trauma incidents – 16 per cent (14 per cent)