WILTSHIRE Air Ambulance had its busiest year since becoming a charity in 2015, rescuing more than 1,000 people.

The lifesaving paramedics carried out 1,233 missions in 2019 – 224 of them in the Swindon area – which is 12 per cent more than the year before.

Most of these (920) were completed by car due to issues with obtaining an air operator’s licence for the team’s helicopter.

Chief executive David Philpott said: “Despite the well-documented issues with our Bell 429 helicopter during 2019, our aircrew were busier than they have ever been.

“When our helicopter is unable to fly, our critical care paramedics and doctors use rapid response vehicles.

“The vehicles have the same medical equipment that is onboard the helicopter so we are still able to provide gold standard medical care to patients.

”We rely on donations to provide our essential service so we’d like to thank our supporters for their generosity and our volunteers for their dedication in attending fundraising events and raising awareness of our charity.”

The largest number of callouts in 2019 were to cardiac emergencies – 384, which accounted for almost one in three missions, while 239 were to road traffic collisions, which was almost one in five missions.

The team were called to 112 falls, 104 medical collapses, 78 assaults and 66 sporting injuries, of which 27 were horse riding accidents.

More than one in 10 incidents (132) involved children, and more than one in three missions (479) took place at night.

The largest number of incidents Wiltshire Air Ambulance responded to were in the Swindon area.

Around Wiltshire, the WAA responded to six incidents in Cricklade, 17 in Royal Wootton Bassett, 29 in Amesbury, 20 in Bradford on Avon, 39 in Calne, 90 in Chippenham, 29 in Corsham, 73 in Devizes, 28 in Marlborough, 23 in Malmesbury, 61 in Melksham, four in Mere, 16 in Pewsey, 57 in Salisbury, 19 in Tidworth, three in Tisbury, 82 in Trowbridge, 57 in Warminster and 27 in Westbury.

The air ambulance responded to incidents in neighbouring counties including Bristol, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Somerset.

This year Wiltshire Air Ambulance celebrates a significant milestone – its 30th year of operation – but relies on generous donations to keep its helicopter flying and continue its lifesaving efforts.