The air-ambulance is currently based at Welshpool Airport, nearly the central point of Powys which is 120 miles from top to bottom.
There are no major A&E receiving hospitals , the nearest ones being Shrewsbury, Telford (across the border in England), and in Wrexham.
Ambulance numbers are limited, and when there is an accident or serious illness that requires transport to hospital, it means a long journey by road, and yet another long journey for the ambulance to return back to its area.
With ambulances currently waiting for many HOURS at these hospitals to hand-over their patients, this often means that ALL ambulances that cover the Mid-Wales area are both away from the area, and unable to provide the life-saving help when required, and it is not uncommon for sick or injured people in Powys having to wait many hours before an ambulance finally becomes free.
For such serious conditions that demand urgent hospital care within the 'Golden Hour', Our only hope of survival is to call on the Air Ambulance based in Welshpool.
After a stroke or heart attack, it is vital that a patient is transported to hospital and seen by a specialist within an hour to stand a chance of survival.
With such limited numbers of ambulances, and the distances needed to travel to and from a suitable hospital, this can only happen in Mid-Wales with the use of the helicopter, and only if it is based nearby to start with.
There are endless stories of residents waiting many hours for an ambulance, it is not the ambulance's fault, nor that of the ambulance service, it is the delays within the hospitals in taking the patients and releasing the ambulances.
Even today (19th Aug 2022) the local news carries the story of an elderly woman who fell and seriously broke her leg, who was forced to lay outside on a garden path waiting for an ambulance
FOR OVER 10 HOURS!
This map shows the location of all the major hospitals of Wales, and how these services are spread around the outside edges, with no provision in the centre.
Due to the difficult road network of Mid-Wales, land based ambulances normally cross over the border into England to access the Shrewsbury and Telford hospitals.
There are currently 3 Air-Ambulances in Wales, one in the south, one in the north, and one centrally located in Welshpool which is almost the centre of Powys.
To relocate both the Welshpool and Caernarfon aircraft, bases, and ground support vehicles to a new singular base located in North Wales, will leave massive areas without rapid coverage.
For anyone injured or ill in Powys that need more urgent transportation to hospital without long bumpy journeys by road, would have to wait for the Air-Ambulance to first fly down to Powys from the north, then fly the patient out to the receiving hospital (normally Shrewsbury or Telford), reducing any possibilities of ever achieving the 'Golden Hour'.
Mid-Wales does not have motorways, and apart from having a few By-passes around some of the bigger towns, most of the roadways are rural single lane roads. These roads are twisty, often exposed to the elements and easily put out of use due to flooding.
Many residents live in small villages, or on farms, that can quickly become inaccessible by road in the event of snow or flooding. Even at the best times, normal road style Ambulances struggle to get along the many unmade roads leading to these properties.
There are no Accident & Emergency Hospitals.
Existing Ambulances are frequently stuck many miles away across the border waiting to unload patients, leaving VAST areas of Mid-Wales without any ambulance coverage for hours at a time.
Trips by road ambulance to the nearest receiving hospitals can be detrimental to the patient's condition due to the time taken to reach hospital, and also from the extremely uncomfortable ride along unmade roads or poorly maintained highways.
The 'Golden Hour' needed to give the patient any hope of recovery is rarely (if ever) achieved, due to the distances involved, or the availability of Ambulances.
Just ask anyone in the Mid-Wales area who has required the use of an Ambulance, and you will hear endless horror stories of seriously ill patients waiting many hours for a vehicle to be freed up across the border in England, and then it's long journey back to the area, that is as long as it is not diverted to another waiting call enroute.
I am an ex Ambulanceman myself, so I know how hard it can be to be everywhere at once with limited resources. I can also see how frustrating it can be for ambulance staff to be held in queues at the hospital, knowing you are urgently needed back in the area you are based.
I am also one of those patients that have waited many hours!
I have now had several Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA's) or 'Mini-Strokes.
The last one (and most serious) happened early in the morning, and I contacted the GP surgery just before 9am, who told me to be ready as they were sending an ambulance right away.
Despite many phone calls to the ambulance service to find out what delay there was, an ambulance finally turned up at my home around 9.30pm. Over 12 hours later!
I was one of the lucky ones, I SURVIVED!
I came out of it with minimal long-term issues, but not everyone is as lucky!.
The reasons behind the excessive wait, 12 times the golden hour?
All the ambulances from Welshpool, Llanfyllin, Newtown, were stuck in Shrewsbury and Telford hospitals waiting to unload previous patients.
The worrying thing is, I was not the only one, this happens almost daily!
Luckily for me, I was one who had suffered a TIA, a more minor stroke. But I still ended up with a small patch of brain damage (about the size of a pea), which has left an effect. With daily medication it has been kept under control, and I refuse to let the issues I have been left with stop me from living a normal life.
But I was warned by the specialists, that if I ever have another it will be far more serious.
But on a daily basis there are those far less fortunate, who suffer a full stroke, in these cases it is imperative that immediate treatment and medication is given, and given within what is known as 'THE GOLDEN HOUR'. Failure to do so can result in permanent paralysis, permanent brain damage, EVEN DEATH!
Due to the poor road network, the limited number of ambulances stationed miles apart, and their lack of availability due to the need to travel many miles across the border to a casualty receiving hospital, and time stuck at these hospitals waiting to handover patients, the people that live here stand very little chance of ever receiving that immediate 'Golden Hour' treatment.
For such serious cases, to give them a fighting chance of survival and any hopes of recovery, we need to be able to call on a faster response.
WE NEED THE LOCAL AIR-AMBULANCE.
AND WE NEED IT TO REMAIN LOCAL!
and links to further information.
Cynthia Duce - SAVE Wales Air Ambulance - Welshpool Base FACEBOOK PAGE. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1106543493572234/
WEBSITE - https://savemidwalesbase.co.uk/
EMRTS Service Review - https://easc.nhs.wales/engagement/sdp/
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