STUNNING photographs show the gruelling challenges faced by Wiltshire Air Ambulance pilots and paramedics during the pandemic.

Sony's award-winning photographer Terry Donnelly received special access to the lifesaving team and captured snapshots of life on the frontline which look like something out of a film.

Its 30th year proved to be its toughest ever as crews respond to a record number of incidents during the coronavirus crisis, with one in three involving cardiac emergencies, while their funding plummeted due to fundraising events being cancelled.

The charity's emergency responders worked up to 19 hours a day tackling life-saving emergencies around Wiltshire, Bath and beyond in the iconic yellow-and-green helicopter or rapid response cars.

They responded to 1,238 incidents - three a day on average - while losing £500,000 of expected income that community fundraisers would have brought in.

The air ambulance is releasing the images captured by Terry Donnelly to give people an idea of what it's like to work in such high-pressure conditions during a health emergency.

The pictures show marks adorning the face of critical care paramedic Joanne Gilbert, caused by the personal protective equipment the aircrew have been required to wear during their day-to-day operations.

Critical care paramedic Paul Rock, pictured in a full hazmat suit to attend an incident, said: “We’ve had to alter our operations significantly in the past year and it hasn’t been easy.

"But I’m extremely proud of how we’ve all pulled together as a team to ensure our service hasn’t been affected.”

Terry Donnelly said: “I worked with Wiltshire Air Ambulance on a photography project in 2019 and it was really interesting to see first-hand how much life has changed for the aircrew since Covid-19 hit.

“I have witnessed the sheer determination and devotion the crew at Wiltshire Air Ambulance have to give critical care to their patients and to help save lives.

“They had to make changes to their helicopter and wear hot and uncomfortable PPE just to carry out their work.

"Their job role is multi-skilled and extremely demanding, and the way they have adapted and coped with the additional pressures whilst working on the front line during a pandemic has been nothing short of valiant over the last 12 months.”

It costs £3.75 million each year to keep Wiltshire Air Ambulance flying. Across the United Kingdom, they are one of 21 air ambulance charities who rely on public donations to continue saving lives.

They receive no regular direct funding from the government or from National Lottery grants.