THE county’s air ambulance service attended more than 2,500 call outs last year, including nearly 140 in Oxford.

Thames Valley Air Ambulance, a registered charity, has also revealed the top reasons for attendances with cardiac arrest the most common.

Between October, 2019 and September last year the air ambulance received a total number of 2,570 call outs and helped 1,497 patients across the Thames Valley and beyond.

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In Oxford, they were called out 139 times and delivered medical care to 66 patients.

Of the 2,570 call outs the most common reason was for cardiac arrests, with 692 calls, then accidental injuries at 550 and followed by road traffic collisions at 466.

Amanda McLean, chief executive of Thames Valley Air Ambulance, said: “As we begin another national lockdown, we urge people to follow the Government guidelines to help control infection rates and reduce the risk of overwhelming hospitals and other health services.

“We’re also asking people to be extra careful where possible, for example if you must be out on the roads or doing DIY. We don’t want anybody to need our services but when they do, we bring the hospital to the patient."

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In the same period for 2018/19, Thames Valley Air Ambulance was called out 2,670 times delivering advanced medical care to 1,667 patients.

Much of the overall annual drop was down to a significant fall in crashes, with road traffic collisions dropping from 600 to 466 due to fewer drivers on the roads during the first lockdown.

During this period and answering the call of the NHS, the charity redeployed clinical staff to the John Radcliffe Hospital to help treat the most severely ill Covid-19 patients.

Alongside this, the charity set up an inter-hospital transfer service to transport critical care patients to hospitals where capacity was available.

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Ms McLean said: “Last year was an unprecedented year for every healthcare provider, working under the added strain of coronavirus.

“Our crews continue to deliver hospital level care to the most critically ill or injured people in full Personal Protective Equipment.

"It’s hard and unpleasant but our paramedics and doctors are trained for any eventuality to give you the best chance, when the worst happens.”

Dr Stewart McMorran, medical director at Thames Valley Air Ambulance, said: “We are called out to the most serious incidents. Working in full PPE adds another layer of difficulty both physically and emotionally.

"Being able to communicate and calm people while they are in the middle of one of the most traumatic experiences of their lives are as important as the advanced medical care we bring.

“Unfortunately, PPE is essential during coronavirus but it is another barrier we have to overcome to ensure we’re giving the best treatment and care if you need us.”

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