New aircrew take to the skies across the West Midlands

New MAA Aircrew

Wednesday 29th October 2014 – 10.45am – Murray MacGregor.

For six members of staff from West Midlands Ambulance Service, their jobs are really set to take off for the next three years.

They have just qualified as aircrew paramedics who will fly on the Midlands Air Ambulance aircraft based in Staffordshire and Worcestershire. Although flying from Tattenhill and Strensham, their role could, and almost certainly will take them almost anywhere in the West Midlands or even further afield.

The six were picked from the many staff who applied for the role. They finished a two week HEMS (helicopter emergency medical service) technical crew member training course last week.

During the course, which took place at new education visitor centre at Strensham Airbase just off the M5 motorway, each of them had to get to grips with navigation; meteorology; safety around the aircraft; basic airmanship; and getting familiar with the equipment used on the aircraft which is smaller and a very different environment to use in.

WMAS Air Operations Manager, Becky Tinsley, said: “Each of the six will be seconded for three years to work part time on the Midlands Air Ambulance aircraft based at Strensham and Tattenhill. The rest of the time they will continue in their main roles.

“During the course, run by Bond Aviation Services, who operate the three MAA aircraft, the candidates not only had to complete extensive ground based training, they had to undertake three flights:
• Navigation – this is quite tough in itself as some people get air sick;
• Working in the air – not everyone handles the challenges of working in a very confined space whilst flying. It is certainly quite different to being in the back of an ambulance;
• Final assessment – this is where they have to put all of their learning into practice and is a pass/fail test.

“Understandably, we set the bar very high so massive congratulations to each of them in getting through a very tough course. I am looking forward to seeing them develop into the role over the coming weeks and months.”

Assistant Chief Ambulance Officer, Steve Wheaton, who himself used to be an aircrew paramedic, added: “Congratulations to each of them on getting through the selection and training programmes, which is no easy task.

“This is an exciting time where they get a chance to use their new skills in a really exciting environment. Whilst they have passed their course, I know from personal experience that the learning starts here, and wish them all the very best.”

Hanna Sebright, Chief Executive of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, said: “The Charity would like to welcome on board the new paramedics to the aircrew of Midlands Air Ambulance. The Charity has been working in partnership with WMAS for 23 years and is extremely proud that in that time we have attended over 44,000 incidents saving countless lives.”

Note to Editors
From left: Mike Smyth (Clinical Department at HQ), Steve Mason (Warwick), Dave Bentley (HART in Oldbury), Kelly Bennett (Erdington, Birmingham), Laura Rogers (HART) and Pete Edwards (Willenhall, Black Country).

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