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 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. The fleet aircraft are not operated under IFR, so are limited to daylight and good weather conditions. This contrasts with the neighbouring Great North Air Ambulance Service whose fleet have full IFR capability.[2]

  • 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.[3]
  • 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.[4]
  • 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 road vehicle (BMW X5) was added to the fleet. This has been given the name "Air Ambulance Response Unit" (or 'RU' for short) It enables doctors and paramedics to carry out some of their work during the hours of darkness, poor weather or when an aircraft requires maintenance.[5]


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

The Paramedics who provide the patient care for incidents attended by NWAA 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 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.[6]

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 [7]


  1. ^ About us - North West Air Ambulance
  2. ^ "Great North Air Ambulance: our aircraft". Retrieved 24 February 2018. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "» Say hello to Ru!". Retrieved 2018-02-24. 
  6. ^ The Team - North West Air Ambulance
  7. ^ How is the air ambulance tasked to missions - North West Air Ambulance

External links

  • North West Air Ambulance
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