THANKS to Wessex Internet, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance can now carry out their work to the optimum, with the help of a reliable, ultrafast and efficient internet connection.

James Gibson Fleming, founder of Wessex Internet, a specialist rural internet provider, was instrumental in providing a full fibre broadband connection to the Henstridge Airfield base in March.

As a qualified pilot and owner of a local rural business he quickly understood the challenges that the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance team were facing.

A reliable, uninterruptable internet connection is critical for the team’s operations on the ground and in the air. Adverse weather, medical conditions, difficult terrain and remote locations all add to the challenges faced on a daily basis.

He said: "As the air ambulance is so important to everyone in our Wessex Internet coverage area, our civils team dropped everything to get this link in.

"It was no mean feat – we were in the depths of winter and needed to cross 5km of the wettest farm land in the Blackmore Vale.

"We snatched some dry weather and got two plough teams to work simultaneously to complete the link in just two days."

As a registered charity relying on public funding, the cost of a full fibre connection was a big consideration, so the team was delighted when Wessex Internet offered to arrange the installation free of charge.

Bill Sivewright, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance chief executive, said: “Getting to patients quickly, safely and efficiently, not surprisingly, requires access to the latest information from a number of different sources.

"However, we are increasingly reliant on fast and reliable internet communications for every aspect of our operations, from sharing vital clinical or aviation information, to education, governance and logistics.

"The introduction of full-fibre to our airbase represents a real investment into the future of our communications.

"Wessex Internet have been supporting us for a number of years and this most recent upgrade to our system is a clear demonstration of their enduring support and generosity for which we are incredibly grateful.”

Paul Owen, operations manager, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, said: “Having a reliable and fast internet connection ensures that all the planning that is necessary during inclement weather and particularly during the night can be conducted quickly and in a reliable manner.

"It also saves us time when we log and record incidents after returning to base and enables us to use Zoom and Teams type platforms effectively, which was generally unachievable, especially when we were trying to communicate remotely as a large team during the lockdown periods.

"The entire process of installing this state-of-the-art technology, including the digging and burrowing underground, to the teams working on both the inside and outside of the building went extremely smoothly."

Photograph caption:

Pictured are: Norton Maby (Installation Engineer) and Michael Rose (Installation Engineer Apprentice), alongside the DSAA crew of Ben Channon, Kev Rutherford, Jonny Price and Tom Ghee.