RAF News

Air Ambulance Week 2022

Image shows RAF medics with an air ambulance helicopter and van.

During this Air Ambulance Week 2022, we celebrate the talented and dedicated RAF aviators providing specialist care in critical moments to the most critically ill and injured patients to make a lifesaving difference.


Sergeant Ivens is a RAF Critical Care Air Support Team Nurse, who has worked with the Adult Critical Care Transfer Service for Wales since March 2022.

Prior to August 2021, there were no dedicated transfer and retrieval services for the critically ill within Wales. But following recommendations by the Intensive Care Society (ICS) and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), they have since been established.

Image shows Medic standing by a sign for the Adult Critical Care Transfer Service.
Adult Critical Care Transfer Service Manager, Meryl Jenkins.

Now the Adult Critical Care Transfer Service are responsible for the transfer of patients, under the current Service Manager, Meryl Jenkins and Clinical Lead Dr Michael Slattery. The services operate bespoke vehicles and equipment, with skilled medics to provide specialist critical care for adult patients requiring inter-hospital transfer. This greatly supports the NHS Wales, with 519 successful transfers between August 2021 to July 2022.

There are many Emergency Helicopter Ambulances in the UK operated by Critical Care Teams of the most highly skilled pre-hospital doctors and paramedics in the world. They perform urgent and often life-saving medical attention at the scene, before patients can be transferred to a hospital for further treatment; from general anaesthetics to open-heart surgery.

Image shows Medic standing by a sign for the Adult Critical Care Transfer Service.
Clinical Lead of  Adult Critical Care Transfer Service, Dr Michael Slattery.

Each team consists of four main roles:

  • Critical Care Transfer Assistants – Ambulance Technicians responsible for driving vehicles to assist with clinical interventions
  • Retrieval and Transfer Practitioner – either Nurses or Paramedics, responsible for providing patient care
  • Doctors and consultants – with backgrounds in anaesthetics, intensive care, and advanced airway management
  • Coordinator – a team lead who ensures objectives are met in a logistical and efficient way

Sergeant Ivens’ placement was an excellent opportunity to broaden his skills and experience the fast-paced environment of critical care alongside a talented team.

Since starting with Adult Critical Care Transfer Service 5 months ago, I have completed 59 inter-hospital transfers. In addition, there has been regular sim training related to patient transfer, opportunities to take part in cross-organisational major incident training and teaching on the All Wales Adult Critical Care Transfer Courses

I have also been able to take on the role of Coordinator and gain experience in the organisational and logistical side of operations, which is difficult to come by while bedside in an NHS Trust.

Sergeant Ivens

In one case, a 47-year-old female had sustained a tear to her trachea. She required specialist respiratory care that could bypass her upper airway, allowing her to breath. The Adult Critical Care Transfer Service arrived by ambulance, to use their expertise and specialist equipment. The Consultant, Dr Hayden Stephenson, ingeniously used two ventilators to mimic the lungs, and together, the team ultimately saved the patients’ life.

I believe that I will return to the Cadre a more skilful, knowledgeable, and experienced clinician, which will benefit the patients we care for and the Cadre as a whole.

Sergeant Ivens

Image shows RAF medic wearing headset and high visibility jacket inside an ambulance.
Sergeant Ivens on his placement with the Adult Critical Care Transfer Service for Wales.

Placements between the Royal Air Force and specialist services allows for a promising and cooperative Next Generation of RAF to be better trained and prepared for action. Thank-you to all our RAF medical aviators and allied services for their dedication to caring for our people, in often life saving circumstances.

Read more about what it takes to be a RAF Nurse

#No Ordinary Job

Read more about Air Ambulances