HAMPSHIRE and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA) celebrated last week after undertaking its 5,000th mission since it began operations on 1 July, 2007.

To mark the milestone members of the air ambulance crew gathered together with charity patron Ailsa Montagu, chairman Tony Nicholson and chief executive John Perry on the helipad at Southampton General Hospital.

Ailsa Montagu said: “As patron of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance I have seen outstanding progress within such a young charity, and this milestone is another remarkable achievement.

“I am very proud to be patron of such a talented and dedicated team of professionals who provide this life-saving service to the people of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.”

HIOWAA’s 5,000th mission was a primary percutaneous coronary intervention patient – an elderly male, who was conveyed by air ambulance from the Isle of Wight to Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth.

The new helipad at St Mary’s Hospital, Isle of Wight, enables patients with life-threatening injuries to be flown from the Trauma Unit at St Mary’s to the Trauma Centre at University Hospital Southampton or to other specialist centres.

In an urgent situation the turnaround time on the helipad is about four minutes.

Chief executive John Perry said: “Our 5,000th mission was a significant landmark for us. It costs in excess of £4,000 a day to keep the air ambulance flying and as we expand our service, our costs are set to increase.

“Every day I hear stories of former patients and of the outstanding job done by our air ambulance crew, and we owe our thanks to the people of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight for allowing us to continue to provide our life-saving service.”