Not for Profit

Published: December 12, 2021 | Updated: December 13, 2021

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance flying high after winning three national excellence awards

By Andrew Diprose, editor

They’re the heroes – and heroines – of the skies.

And now Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance (DSAA) has received UK-wide recognition for its outstanding work after winning three categories at this year’s National Air Ambulance Awards of Excellence.

The life-saving charity, founded in 2000 and relying on the generosity of the public to cover its £5m+ annual operational costs, was shortlisted as a finalist in five categories and won three:

  • Doctor of the Year: Dr Phil Hyde, DSAA’s Medical Lead.
  • Innovation of the Year
  • Lifetime Achievement Award : Bill Sivewright, DSAA Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

The charity said of Dr Hyde, pictured: “His selfless dedication to the service of patients is only matched by his incredible clinical knowledge and expertise.

“He demonstrates daily his incredible skills as a physician, his dedication to every aspect of patient care and his absolute commitment to nurturing and developing skills in others.

“What makes Dr Hyde exceptional, is what he has achieved for patients regionally and indeed nationally.

“Despite his punishing schedule as a Paediatric Intensivist in a Major Trauma Centre, and as a member of the DSAA clinical team during one of the busiest and most challenging years in living memory, Dr Hyde continues to explore the envelope of what can be achieved for patients, particularly in the pre-hospital environment.

“His clear vision of how patient care works better if it is properly ‘joined up’ is the driving force behind some extraordinary achievements over the past 18 months.”

The Innovation of the Year award was for a collaboration between DSAA, Southampton Oxford Retrieval Team, Wales and West Acute Transport for Children Service and Bristol Children’s Hospital Trauma Team Leaders.

A time-critical inter-hospital transfer of paediatric patients in the South West Region has taken five years to develop and mature and is the first of its kind in the UK.

The inter-hospital service, that is now being provided by DSAA, is in addition to its normal critical care activity and regional adult time-critical, inter-hospital service.

The prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to CEO Bill Sivewright for his outstanding contribution to the work of DSAA and the air ambulance community over the past 11 years.

The charity said: “Bill’s inspiring leadership has enabled DSAA to become one of the most innovative and highly respected air ambulance charities in the country.

“He has led from the front across all areas of the charity, empowering others to do the same.

“This has resulted in the development of a small but extremely efficient charity team, where every member of staff feels valued and supported.

“Through Bill’s vision, leadership, drive, innovation and expertise, he has nurtured and created an outstanding air ambulance service supported by his team of clinicians, staff, volunteers and of course the community he serves.”

Bill said: “With 21 air ambulances across the country operating in an environment that demands high performance, to stand out in that company, is a real mark of quality.

“But for three of our nominations to then be held up as not one of the best, but the best in the country, is simply outstanding.

“Congratulations to our whole team, who are all winners in our eyes and who continue to work tirelessly for the benefit of the patients we serve.

“Being awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award is an incredible honour and it has been a privilege to be able to contribute in the way that I have.”

Since its launch in 2000 DSAA has flown thousands of missions.

It is tasked as part of the normal ‘999’ emergency process by a dedicated Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) desk located at ambulance control (paid for by the South West Air Ambulance Charities) and can attend up to eight or nine incidents in a single day.

Its airbase is at Henstridge Airfield on the Dorset/Somerset border.

From there, the helicopter crew can be at any point in the two counties in less than 20 minutes.

The helicopter can, if required, then take a patient to the nearest Major Trauma Centre in the South West within a further 20 minutes.