Almost 1,500 call-outs were attended by Magpas Air Ambulance last year, as new figures reveal it was the charity’s busiest year on record.
The service, based in Huntingdon, received an average of four calls a day in 2016, but only between one and two a day were recorded back in 2013 – a total of just 518 callouts that year.
“It’s a real multi-faceted thing,” Daryl Brown, chief executive officer, told The Hunts Post.
“The NHS is seeing an unprecedented demand in services and it’s a national demand. There’s a lot of evidence out there that’s starting to gain momentum that it’s due to the aging population, and we saw an increase in the number of cardiac arrests last year too.
“Another reason [for the increase] is that the roads are getting busier and 50 per cent of what we go to is road traffic collisions (RTCs) and serious injuries following them,” he added.
“There was a study which came out in about 2010 that said people were driving to conserve fuel and because of that the number of RTCs which were serious or fatal dropped. But now the economy has started to grow so the number of cars on the road is therefore increasing as a result.”
Mr Brown also explained that the rise in calls has partly stemmed from the introduction of the charity’s 24-hour service, introduced in October 2015, and that, for some, Magpas is the only emergency service available.
“That’s when there really is no other enhanced care service,” he said.
“It’s also at the time of year when it’s cold and the nights are shorter and the majority of helicopters stop flying, but the fact that we carry on at this time of year is really important. We have to be the service that’s available. It shouldn’t matter when or where someone is, the service should be the same day or night.”
In fact, 32 per cent of callouts were done during the night in 2015, with 48.8 per cent recorded in 2016.
Running costs also increased for the charity by 16 per cent last year, which sees its one helicopter serve 12 counties.
Despite this, Mr Brown is confident the service can continue to raise funds to keep its work going – a sum which now reaches almost £5 million for the year ahead.
“We’re seeing an aging population with people with complex healthcare needs, so I think it’s a trend which will increase for the foreseeable future,” he said.
“We’ve seen year-on-year our fundraising increase by more than 20% and that’s just in generosity, not us asking for money, and more people supporting us.”
Some 73,000 people are currently fundraising for Magpas, with 80% of its funds coming from £1 donations.
“I think the biggest challenge we have is that we don’t have huge reserves. Some charities have millions in reserves, but all of the money we raise goes into the service and the next innovation,” Mr Brown added.
“There are so many good charities out there and I try to support as many as I can, but MAGPAS is just the perfect fit.
“It’s applicable to everybody, no matter age, gender, background, and nobody knows when they’ll need it. We might come to you at work, home, or on the roadside and to raise money for doctors and paramedics who can save lives is a no-brainer to me really.”