THE sight of the Cornwall Air Ambulance landing in Helston last week to help a woman suffering from a suspected cardiac arrest served as a reminder of the important role the charity plays in saving lives.
Fire service co-responders, police and the ambulance service all attended the scene, before the woman was transported to hospital by helicopter.
The Cornwall Air Ambulance flies more than 800 missions each year and deliver vital medical treatment to patients across the region within an average of 12 minutes.
Paramedic crew provide pre-hospital care at the scene and often fly patients to specialist hospital units in Cornwall and Devon, or even as far as Swansea in Wales.
The life-saving service costs £3 million per year to run and is funded by the generosity of supporters without any government funding.
The argument often turns to a lack of cash in the coffers, but luckily there will be buckets of money available post-Brexit, as we can all remember the bus emblazoned with the words ‘We send the EU £350 million a week, let’s fund our NHS instead’.
It is ironic that the town’s designated landing area for the underfunded air ambulance service is located alongside the Grylls Monument – a structure recently jet washed and spruced up at a cost of a few hundred thousand pounds to the town.
At the scene of the incident, one of the town’s defibrillators was also utilised although not actually used by co-responders.
The vital medical equipment was also used in Penzance and Redruth on the same day.
More than 30,000 cardiac arrests take place out of hospitals each year in the UK, but less than 10 per cent of people survive.
According to the British Heart Foundation, countries where the public is better equipped to recognise and deal with cardiac arrests have survival rates up to three times higher.
However, as with the Cornwall Air Ambulance, there is sadly no public funding for defibrillators.
I recently spoke with two local fundraisers who work tirelessly to install 24-hour access defibrillators locally and they told me the aim is to have enough units to ensure people are always within two minutes of one.
Yet they work on a shoestring and face a battle to raise enough money to pay for each additional unit.
A strategically placed defibrillator, or help from the air ambulance, could one day save your life. How about dropping a couple of quid into the next collection box you see? It may be the best investment of your life.