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Explore our History

In 1999, our critical care service first took to the skies to treat patients in need. Now, over two decades and 24,000 call-outs later, we dedicate our 21st anniversary to our patients and their families – each of whom are at the heart of our story as a charity.

Explore our timeline below to see the most significant events from our 21 year history including our first flight, our independence, and our rating as an ‘Outstanding’ healthcare provider from the CQC.

1999 - 2020

1999
The AA donates £14 million to help establish the first national network of air ambulances
This funds an additional seven helicopters across the UK, including what was known as the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance.
1999
1999
OUR FIRST HELICOPTER, THE A109 AUGUSTA, ARRIVED. IT WAS PAINTED YELLOW WITH AA LIVERY.
1999
1999
AN EARLY VERSION OF OUR WEEKLY LOTTERY IS LAUNCHED​
At £1 per ticket, we launched an early version of our lottery the ‘Thames Valley Flight for Life Weekly Draw.’ Today, our weekly lottery is played by thousands of players, each of whom has a chance of winning a weekly cash prize of £1,000!
1999
2000
DUE TO A CASH SHORTFALL, THE SERVICE IS GROUNDED ON TUESDAYS AND WEDNESDAYS
A dedicated fundraising appeal is launched and the generosity of the Thames Valley community helps restore the service to seven days a week.
2000
2002
FULLY FUNDED BY OUR COMMUNITY​
Once the AA’s initial three year funding had passed, our service became fully funded by the communities of Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
2002
2002
THE ARRIVAL OF OUR SECOND HELICOPTER, THE 105 BOLKOW
2002
2007
THAMES VALLEY AIR AMBULANCE RELOCATES
From our original home at White Waltham Airfield, to our current operating base at RAF Benson.
2007
2008
BOMB AND BLAST MAJOR INCIDENT PACKS ARE USED ON BOARD THE HELICOPTER FOR THE FIRST TIME
The kit was first used on former patient Alan’s arm, restricting huge blood loss after an incident and ultimately saving his life.
2008
tvaa dispatcher
2008
LAUNCH OF THE DISPATCH DESK
A Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) desk is funded at the 999 call centre in Bicester, deploying the crew to the most serious incidents across the three counties.
2008
2008
A NEW GENERATION EC135 HELICOPTER
Affectionately known as ‘Bob’, our upgraded helicopter had more room for equipment and treatment, an extra seat for medical passengers and trainee doctors, as well as carrying more fuel and having more power than our previous aircraft.
2008
2010
DAILY FLYING HOURS ARE EXTENDED
We extended our operating hours in July, from 10 to 12 hours during the summer months and 8 to 10 in the winter months. A total of 66 missions were attended during the additional hours in the initial five month period of the extension.
2010
2012
WE FUNDED DOCTORS ON BOARD FOR THE FIRST TIME
While doctors had been on board part-time since 1999, this was the first time they were funded by our supporters. This provided a major step in the quality of care we provide.
2012
2013
HEMS CREW COURSE TAKES US TO NEW HEIGHTS
The first course of its kind to be delivered to HEMS crews in our region, taking us to new heights in terms of medical practice and delivery.
2013
2013
ULTRASOUND MACHINE USED ON BOARD FOR THE FIRST TIME FOR REAL-TIME IMAGING AND DIAGNOSIS OF INJURIES
2013
2014
FIRST AIR AMBULANCE TO CARRY A PORTABLE BLOOD ANALYSIS (I-STAT) MACHINE ON BOARD
We also became the second air ambulance to carry blood.
2014
Critical Care Response car
2015
LAUNCHED OUR FIRST CRITICAL CARE RESPONSE VEHICLE
The Critical Care Response Vehicle, launched in Autumn, allowed us to dispatch two crews per shift and reach locations where the helicopter may struggle to land, such as built-up urban areas.
2015
2015
THE CREW WON A SERIES OF ACCOLADES THIS YEAR
Winning awards at the Air Ambulance Awards of Excellence, the Pride of Buckinghamshire and Pride of Reading Awards, recognising their amazing work and commitment to emergency care. This year also saw us win Charity of the Year at the Thames Valley Business Magazine Awards.
2015
2017
FORMAL DECISION WAS MADE IN JULY TO BEGIN THE TRANSITION TO A NEW OPERATING MODEL AS AN INDEPENDENT PROVIDER
We also equipped our crews with real time visualisation for the first time, providing them with live streaming cameras when sent to incidents.
2017
2018
THAMES VALLEY AIR AMBULANCE BECOMES AN INDEPENDENT HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
The most significant change undergone since our inception in 1999. This allowed us to expand our work, upgrade our resources and, most importantly, reach more patients than ever before.
2018
Adam Crosby, Patient Liaison Manager
2018
wE HIRED OUR FIRST PATIENT LIAISON MANAGER, ADAM
This new role extended our patient care beyond the scene of an emergency; including not only the person we attend to on the day, but friends and family members who loved a patient or had a vested interest in their welfare.
2018
2018
WE OFFICIALLY OPEN OUR NEW CHARITY HEADQUARTERS IN STOKENCHURCH, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE
2018
2019
A 110% RISE IN CALL-OUTS

With our expanded crew of 23 paramedics, 23 doctors, 6 pilots and 7 dispatch assistants, we were called-out a total of 2,670 times to patients in need. This was only made possible thanks to your donations.
2019
2019
SIR TIM JENNER STEPS DOWN AS CHAIR OF OUR BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Handing over to Sarah Roberts - a trustee with Thames Valley Air Ambulance for two years.
2019
HRH Countess of Wessex being shown medical equipment by tvaa doctor
2019
HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE COUNTESS OF WESSEX IS OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCED AS OUR ROYAL PATRON
Recognising her long-standing involvement with the charity which she had supported for many years.
2019
tvaa doctor and paramedic stood with phone w3w app
2019
WE LAUNCHED A UNIQUE PARTNERSHIP WITH THE FREE LOCATION APP, WHAT3WORDS
The app divides the world into 3m x 3m squares each with a unique 3 word address. The app is integrated into our dispatch system, enabling us to locate patients more accurately and quickly
2019
2020
WE BECAME THE FIRST AIR AMBULANCE TO RECEIVE AN OVERALL 'OUTSTANDING' RATING FROM THE CARE QUALITY COMMISSION
The patients interviewed by the CQC said that Thames Valley Air Ambulance’s staff treated them and their families with compassion and kindness, respected their dignity and privacy. They also said they went above and beyond expectations to meet their individual needs and wishes.
2020
stay at home, protect the nhs, save lives sticker on critical care response vehicle
2020
THAMES VALLEY AIR AMBULANCE CREWS BEGIN WORKING DIRECTLY ALONGSIDE FRONTLINE NHS TEAMS
Responding to a request from NHS partners, our crews began working directly alongside frontline NHS teams to treat the most severely ill Covid-19 patients in hospitals within the region.
2020
Paramedic wearing mask, delivering the Covid19 vaccine
2021
a shot of good news
Clinicians and staff volunteer their time to support the Covid19 vaccine rollout.
2021