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Catching up with Thames Valley Air Ambulance's Chief Executive Amanda McLean

PUBLISHED: 11:22 30 May 2019

The helicopter and emergency response vehicles

The helicopter and emergency response vehicles


Emergency Helicopter Medics has been on our screens in recent weeks, and the first episode featured a Berkshire man being saved from a deadly heart attack by Thames Valley Air Ambulance. We caught up with Thames Valley Air Ambulance's Chief Executive Amanda McLean

Thames Valley Air Ambulance features in the second series of TV's Emergency Helicopter Medics, on our screens now. The programme gives us a rare insight into the charity that provides advanced critical care to those who are ill and injured in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, while racing against the clock to save lives.

Episode one featured the dramatic story of 48-year-old Paul from Cookham in Berkshire, who suffered a 'widow-maker' heart attack − renowned to result in immediate death. Paul's heart, failing in every way possible, had multiple cardiac arrests. Thirteen defibrillator shocks were administered by Thames Valley Air Ambulance en route to the hospital, as the crew fought to save his life.

Paul collapsed whilst playing golf in Milton Keynes. Thames Valley Air Ambulance reached the golf course − which was 30 miles away - in 16 minutes, and Doctor Chloe Spence and Critical Care Paramedic Jo Meadham arrived on scene to deliver advanced cardiac care to Paul, in what they describe as "the toughest cardiac incident we've ever attended".

Doctor Chloe Spence said: "Paul was critically ill. His heart was in and out of life-threatening rhythms, stopping and starting, requiring advanced intervention to get it to restart, all the way to hospital. He was as critical as one can be, but Paul was a fighter and he battled to stay alive."

We caught up with Amanda McLean, Chief Executive of the Thames Valley Air Ambulance, to hear all about the work of the charity and the new TV series. Amanda lives in Binfield, Berkshire, with her husband and two teenage children.

How did you get involved with Thames Valley Air Ambulance?

When the job as Chief Executive of Thames Valley Air Ambulance was advertised in 2016, I was really excited and applied straight away. Like most people who live in the county, even though I had no direct connection with the charity, I instinctively felt that it was "my" air ambulance and I wanted to bring the skills and experience I'd developed over more than 20 years in the charity sector to such an important community organisation.

What does the charity do?

Our crew of paramedics and doctors respond to often the most critically ill and injured people across our region. Their enhanced training allows us to bring the skills and expertise of a hospital to the scene of an incident. This means that a patient is treated quicker, increasing their chance of survival. The helicopter and our emergency response vehicles carry drugs and equipment not found on the average land ambulance. Our innovative technology and drugs, combined with the expertise of our team, allows us, along with other emergency services, to deliver the best possible care for our patients.

How can people get involved?

Volunteering is a great way to get involved with us. We have lots of exciting opportunities, from bucket collecting to photography to office-based tasks to speaking at events. We are grateful for the support from our volunteers. They play a vital role in helping our crew deliver emergency medical care. If you can spare some time, we'd love to hear from you. If you don't think volunteering is right for you, you can still help by making a donation on our website or by calling 0300 999 0135.

Tell us about the TV show Emergency Helicopter Medics

We are thrilled to be featured in the second series. It's a fantastic opportunity for the viewers to see our amazing crew bringing the expertise, equipment and treatment of the hospital to patients on scene. The TV show helps to raise awareness of our vital work, which is essential to give our patients the best possible chance of survival and recovery. As a charity funded by the public, the series also directly shows our supporters the crucial difference their donations make. .

What events are coming up?

We have lots of events for our community to get involved in. There's still time to sign up for our Dalai Lama Trek in October 2019, where you'll join Team TVAA to hike through the Himalayas. Our other sponsored events include abseiling, cycle rides and family walks. We also have community events too, such as visiting local gardens in our wonderful Open Gardens programme.



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