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Helicopter Emergency Medical Service  
London’s air ambulance – also known as the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) – celebrated 16 years of treating London’s most critically injured patients, in May of this year.  HEMS, which operates from a helipad above the A&E department at The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, takes an experienced trauma doctor and paramedic to the scene of the incident where a patient’s critical care is started within minutes of the 999 call.

A HEMS doctor can carry out procedures that normally take place in the hospital including surgical procedures, administering strong pain relief and anaesthetising patients, particularly those with serious head injuries.  The doctor also decides the most appropriate hospital for the patient in the light of their injuries.  This depends on the nature of the injuries and avoids later transfers from a local hospital to a specialist centre.

This combination of speed of reaching a patient and the ability to deliver intensive care by a trauma doctor within minutes of their accident has not only saved many lives but has also ensured that many people return to a normal life where they otherwise may have risked having long-term disability.

The distinctive red HEMS helicopter flies seven days a week in daylight hours, flies approximately 1000 missions a year, and can reach anywhere within the M25 within 12 minutes.  The majority of incidents are road traffic accidents and falls from heights.  A trauma car operates five nights a week providing the same high-level service.

HEMS receives NHS funding, with additional corporate sponsorship and also fundraises as a charity.  The charity launched its own lottery in 2004 to coincide with the service’s 15th anniversary. Subscriptions for the lottery are £1 a week with quarterly, half yearly and annual subscriptions available with prizes drawn weekly.  To join the lottery or to support HEMS contact Christine Margetts on tel 020 7943 1302 or e-mail

For more information about how you can help, please contact:

Christine Margetts, Appeals Manager
Address Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS), The Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, London E1 1BB
Tel 020 7943 1302

Or visit the HEMS website

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