Devon Air Ambulance is celebrating its 25th year of service this month. Since it started in 1992, the service has completed close to 25,000 missions, saving tens of thousands of lives. The medical flight service celebrated this huge milestone on September 9 at Topsham with a family day and some emergency displays.
Son’s Death Compelled Founder to Start Medical Flight Service
Devon Air Ambulance was pioneered by Dr. Ann Ralli, who lost her son Ceri Thomas in a car accident on Sidbury Hill. He was only 18 years old then. It took an hour for the ambulance to transport Ceri to the hospital but by that time, it was too late for the doctors to save him. Dr. Ann Ralli then asked one of the doctors if there was anything that might have saved her son. The answer she got was “only an air ambulance”.
Upon further research, she realized that for people in rural areas, it was a huge challenge to transport patients to the hospital during “the golden hour”. This compelled her to start a medical flight service that will provide emergency medical patients with quick and efficient transportation to the hospital so that they can get the lifesaving care they need before it’s too late.
Six Years of Fundraising Helped start Devon Air Ambulance
It took Ann six years to raise enough money so that she could launch the much-needed service. And it cost her around £500,000 to set the service up. Now that Devon Air Ambulance operates two helicopters, the service needs to spend £5.5 million per year in operation and maintenance. The public has helped in funding the cost of maintaining the service, which has proven crucial in saving the lives of thousands of people every year.