Coronavirus concerns have temporarily grounded Devon Air Ambulance – with specialist paramedics instead responding to incidents in critical care cars.
Charity bosses say ‘standing down’ the lifesaving aircraft has been a ‘difficult decision’ made to protect crew members.
They have had to make the move as pilots are unable to wear protective kit to operate the helicopter.
Please be assured that this is a temporary measure and subject to continual review – Helena Holt
Heléna Holt, Devon Air Ambulance Trust CEO, said: “Standing down our aircraft has been a very difficult decision for us to make but one we have had to take in order to protect all of our crew.
“Whilst the paramedics can wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when treating and conveying patients, our pilots cannot operate the aircraft wearing PPE.
“They also cannot maintain a two-metre distance between them and the patient.
“As we have no way of knowing whether a patient has coronavirus, this leaves them completely exposed within a small, confined space of the helicopter.
“We hope our community will understand that this is an unacceptable risk.
“Please be assured that this is a temporary measure and subject to continual review.
“We are working with colleagues in the NHS to identify other ways in which we can support patient care as the response to the pandemic develops.
“I would like to thank all of our supporters not just for the donations, but also for their messages of support during this extremely challenging time.
“Despite the pandemic, we will do our best to continue delivering lifesaving care to patients, albeit by road not air.”
Residents can support the Devon Air Ambulance Trust charity by making a donation here.