North West Air Ambulance

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Most incidents handled by the North West Air Ambulance in the Cumbrian Lake District use Furness General Hospital as a primary hospital.

The North West Air Ambulance is the helicopter emergency medical service that covers the North West region of England consisting of the counties of Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside. It is a registered charity.


The charity has existed since 1999.[1] It was established with a single aircraft based at Blackpool Airport and has since upgraded to three state of the art Eurocopter EC135 aircraft one based at Blackpool Airport the other two at City Airport Manchester.


The North West Air Ambulance consists of three Eurocopter EC135 aircraft operated by Bond Air Services which have top speeds of over 150 miles per hour and fly during daylight hours 365 days a year.

  • G-NWAA - based at Blackpool Airport and uses air traffic control callsign Helimed 08. This Aircraft generally covers the Northern counties of Lancashire and Cumbria.[2]
  • G-NWEM - based at Manchester Barton Airport and uses air traffic control callsign Helimed 72. This Aircraft generally covers the Southern counties of Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside.[3]
  • G-NWAE - Based at Manchester Barton Airport, uses air traffic control callsign Helimed 75.

Although the aircraft have their allocated counties, they will often cross into each other's areas should operational needs require it.

In February 2018, a BMW X5 Air Ambulance Response Unit (or 'RU' for short) was added to the fleet - allowing doctors and paramedics to carry out their work during the hours of darkness, poor weather or when an aircraft required maintenance.[citation needed]


One of the air ambulances attending an incident in severe weather conditions.

The Paramedics who provide the life saving treatment on board the Air Ambulance are provided on two year secondments by the North West Ambulance Service. The medics are extensively trained in areas such as helicopter safety, navigation and aviation law as well as advanced medical procedures beyond those performed by their land based colleagues.

In addition to the paramedics, there is always a a pre-hospital emergency medicine trained Doctor on one helicopter from Manchester Barton base.

The Pilots, along with the helicopters themselves are provided from an outside contractor: Bond Aviation Services. All North West Air Ambulance pilots are highly skilled ex-military pilots.[4]

Control of the aircraft was, until recently, the responsibility of the Emergency Medical Dispatchers working in local North West Ambulance Service control rooms. However, there is now a central "Air Desk" at Ambulance Control in Broughton, Preston which prioritises requests for the Air Ambulance in an attempt to increase efficiency [5]


  1. ^ About us - North West Air Ambulance
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ The Team - North West Air Ambulance
  5. ^ How is the air ambulance tasked to missions - North West Air Ambulance

External links

  • North West Air Ambulance
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