From a former police helicopter that only flew once enough money had been raised, to a state-of the art helicopter which can get to patients in minuets, the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance has come a long way in 25 years.
Since airlifting its first patient on May 13, 1994, the air ambulance has been called out to more than 20,000 critically injured patients across Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.
Karen Jobling, chief executive officer at Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be celebrating our 25th year in service.
“Our remarkable charity has come a very long way since its humble beginnings in 1994, when we operated out of a Portakabin and could only fly when we had raised the money to do so. Since then, the tremendous support of our community has ensured that our Ambucopter remains on call and available to those in need 365 days a year.
“There has been quite a dramatic change. Not only have we had three different aircraft, we now deliver the equivalent of a hospital A&E department to the scene through the clinicians and the equipment we have on board.
“This anniversary is not only about celebrating this huge milestone for the charity, but also gives us a chance to look back on how we have been able to make a positive impact on the lives of so many people over the last 25 years.”
To celebrate the charity’s silver jubilee a ‘mock mission’ demonstrated how the crew helps people today.
The scene, a collision involving a train and a car at a level crossing, held at the Fire and Rescue Training Ground in Waddington, saw firefighters and the air ambulance crew work to save two patients.
While there has been a lot of changes in 25 years, the next step for the air ambulance is to be operating 24-hours a day, every day.
Mrs Jobling said: “It is a vital lifesaving service for the two counties. Particularly in rural Lincolnshire where it might take a land ambulance a long time to get to the incident - our air ambulance is able to cover all corners of the counties within 15 minutes.
“Every time the aircraft takes off and goes on a mission its £2,500 and we are called out roughly 1,000 times a year, so we have £2.5 million to raise a year .
“As we now transition to 24-hour flying we need to increase that fundraising to £4m a year.
“We are incredibly grateful to the people and businesses of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire who have shown us such wonderful support. We receive no direct
government funding, meaning we rely solely on the generosity of the public to ensure that our life-saving service continues.”
Captain Llewis Ingamells is the chief pilot of the air ambulance and flew the helicopter during the anniversary mock mission.
The 32-year-old who is originally from Boston, said: “I have been all over Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire and the neighbouring counties - we do jump across to Derbyshire and Yorkshire. We cover 3,500 sq miles.”
While Capt Ingamells said the helicopter usually lands on farmers' fields when attending emergencies it has also been known to land in supermarket car parks.
He said the helicopter can land almost anywhere, as long as there is “30 metres to land”.
Capt Ingamells, along with other members of the team, currently work from 7am to 7pm, but, are now trailing 24-hour shifts.
He said: “It is incredible that this is all charity led.
"A lot of people don’t realise - it is all out of the goodness of people that keeps us flying.”
‘My son wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them”
A Nottinghamshire mother has praised the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance for saving her son’s life after his van went into the back of a lorry, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury.
Craig Metcalf, from Newthorpe left work early on September 18, 2015, when his car went into the back of a lorry on A46 in Lincoln.
He sustained life-changing injuries including a traumatic brain injury, a subarachnoid haemorrhage and complex facial fractures.
The Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance crew were dispatched to the scene in a matter of minutes and Craig was immediately airlifted to Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham.
Craig’s mother, Karen Metcalf, 52, said; “He doesn’t remember anything or the days after.
“My mum had died a week before and I was going to see the vicar with the funeral music when I heard about the crash on the A46.”
Ten minuets later she was rang by the police.
Craig spent three weeks in intensive care before he was transferred to rehabilitation, where he stayed for nine months.
Craig, who is now 29, has “exceeded his consultants expectations” and continues to make progress with this speech and movement.
The family has since been fundraising for the air ambulance and Karen, who works at Warburtons in Eastwood, gives part of her wage to the service each month.
Karen said; “If it wasn’t for them he wouldn’t be here today.
“It is so important that they get the necessary funding.”