Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA) have become the first Air Ambulance Charity in the UK to launch a comprehensive online mental health Wellbeing Programme.
At the heart of the programme is a new wellbeing website, designed to give the paramedics, doctors, pilots and dispatch assistants who make up the Critical Care Teams, the tools to monitor their own mental health by completing an anonymous monthly survey.
The website offers tips and advice on wellbeing based on their results, as well as signposting the teams to further support from mental health professionals. Events and activities designed to encourage healing, and provide time for group team building, will also be an integral part of the programme.
Chief Executive Officer, Alex Lochrane, explained: “National reporting has highlighted that everyone working in the Emergency Services can be affected by post-traumatic stress at any point in their career, and our Critical Care Teams at HIOWAA 30th April 2019 are no exception. They put themselves out there every day and face situations that are unimaginable to us. I am really proud that we can now offer them a platform to seek support and advice, should they need it and I hope others will follow our example.”
An example of the brand new website
HEMS doctor, Matt Kerton, who has been with the Charity for two years, led the programme for HIOWAA. He added: “There is nothing that can prepare us for what we come up against every day and we regularly attend life changing incidents that stay with us long after our shift finishes. Every incident is different, every patient is different, and a situation can change in a split second. In that moment we are wholly focused on keeping our patient alive.”
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week (13th - 19th May) and the launch of the programme, the Charity has arranged a variety of activities, such as personal training sessions and yoga classes for the Critical Care Teams on duty throughout the week. Future team building activities include a Lego building day and trampolining.
Alex Lochrane said “The wellbeing of our Critical Care Teams is of paramount importance, in order that they have the mental and physical resilience to face the challenges they do. We want to ensure they are fit and well so they can continue to provide the best possible life-saving treatment for the people of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.”