WILTSHIRE Air Ambulance is celebrating a successful year acting as a standalone service.

Patients whose lives were saved by Wiltshire Air Ambulance (WAA) have praised the service as it marks the first year of operating as a standalone air ambulance, with a 10 per cent increase in missions undertaken.

WAA has been operating since 1990, but 2015 was the first year using its own helicopter. For the past 24 years WAA shared a helicopter with Wiltshire Police.

The speed of the Bell 429 helicopter, as well as the expertise of the crew, have proved life saving for many, including Adam Gibbs, 17, of Pewsham. Adam was rushed to Chippenham Hospital’s minor injury unit after he had injured his abdomen while riding his bike on June 16.

Adam’s mum, Pippa Gibbs, said: “Adam’s condition was life threatening. He was deteriorating while the air ambulance was carrying him. As a family we are beyond grateful. Wiltshire Air Ambulance is a brilliant service, we are so thankful to have it.”

From when the charity began using the Bell 429 on January 9, 2015 to January 8, 2016, WAA was called out to 537 incidents.

David Philpott, chief executive of WAA, said: “All of us in the charity team, the aircrew and our volunteers are proud to provide an essential helicopter emergency service for people living, working and travelling through Wiltshire and surrounding counties.

“The Bell 429 is a modern and faster helicopter and we are pleased with how it has performed. It goes without saying that we can only provide an air ambulance service because of the generosity of the public, businesses and grant making trusts, who raise funds for us day in and day out. On behalf of everyone at WAA, thank you for your continued support.”