North West Air Ambulance

North West Air Ambulance is the helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) that covers the North West England region, consisting of the counties of Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside.

North West Air Ambulance
North West Air Ambulance1.jpg
A Eurocopter EC135 of the North West Air Ambulance.
Founded19 May 1999[1]
TypeCharitable organisation
Registration no.1075641 [1]
Area served
Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside
Aircraft operated
Eurocopter EC135[2]
Revenue (2021)
£10.4 million[3]
Staff (2021)
Volunteers (2021)
29[3] Edit this at Wikidata


The charity has existed since 1999.[4] It was established with a single aircraft based at Blackpool Airport and has since upgraded to three Eurocopter EC135 aircraft one based at Blackpool Airport the other two at City Airport Manchester (Barton).

In the year ending March 2020, the charity raised £10.4 million and spent £9.4M, which included £6.2M to provide the air ambulance service.[3] The income included £456,000 from government grants.[3]


The service uses three Eurocopter EC135 aircraft operated by Babcock Mission Critical Services Onshore, which have top speeds of over 150 mph (240 km/h), and fly during daylight hours 365 days a year. The fleet aircraft can operate under instrument flight rules (IFR), so fly in all weather conditions, day and night. This is the same capability as the neighbouring Great North Air Ambulance Service whose fleet have larger aircraft unable to reach some sites used by the NWAA.[5]

  • G-NWAA - based at Blackpool Airport and uses air traffic control callsign Helimed 08. This Aircraft generally covers the Northern counties of Lancashire and Cumbria.
  • G-NWEM - based at Barton and uses callsign Helimed 72. This Aircraft generally covers the southern counties of Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside.
  • G-NWAE - based at Barton, uses callsign Helimed 75.

Although the aircraft have their allocated counties, they will often cross into each other's areas should operational needs require it.

In February 2018, a BMW X5 road vehicle was added to the fleet. This has been given the name "Air Ambulance Response Unit" (or 'RU' for short). As a rapid response vehicle, it enables doctors and paramedics to carry out some of their work during the hours of darkness, poor weather or when an aircraft requires maintenance.[6]


One of the air ambulances attending an incident in snowy weather conditions.

The paramedics who provide the patient care for incidents attended by NWAA are provided on two year secondments by the North West Ambulance Service. The medics are extensively trained in areas such as helicopter safety, navigation and aviation law as well as advanced medical procedures beyond those performed by their land based colleagues.

In addition to the paramedics, there is always a pre-hospital emergency medicine trained doctor on one helicopter from Manchester Barton base.

The pilots, along with the helicopters themselves are provided by emergency helicopter specialist Babcock Mission Critical Services Onshore.[7]

Control of the aircraft was, until recently, the responsibility of the emergency medical dispatchers working in local North West Ambulance Service control rooms. However, there is now a central Air Desk at Ambulance Control in Broughton, Preston which prioritises requests for the air ambulance in an attempt to increase efficiency.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "North West Air Ambulance » About the North West Air Ambulance Charity".
  2. ^ "North West Air Ambulance » What does North West Air Ambulance do?".
  3. ^ a b c d e "Charity Overview: North West Air Ambulance". Charity Commission for England and Wales. Retrieved 17 December 2021.
  4. ^ About us - North West Air Ambulance
  5. ^ "Great North Air Ambulance: our aircraft". Archived from the original on 7 November 2018. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  6. ^ "» Say hello to Ru!". Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  7. ^ "Air Ambulance UK - Helicopter Operational Characteristics 2019" (PDF). Association of Air Ambulances. 12 February 2019. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  8. ^ Archived 17 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine How is the air ambulance tasked to missions - North West Air Ambulance

External linksEdit