Devon Air Ambulance is standing down its helicopter flights in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Devon Air Ambulance Trust (DAAT) said it would be temporarily be responding to patients solely by critical care car, but its critical care paramedics would still be able to attend with their specialist skills and equipment.

Heléna Holt, CEO, said: “Standing down our aircraft has been a very difficult decision for us to make but one we have had to take in order to protect all of our crew.

“Whilst the paramedics wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when treating and conveying patients, our pilots cannot operate the aircraft wearing PPE. They also cannot maintain a two metre distance between them and the patient. As we have no way of knowing whether a patient has coronavirus, this leaves them completely exposed within a small confined space. We hope our community will understand that this is an unacceptable risk.

“Please be assured that this is a temporary measure and subject to continual review. We will be working with colleagues in the NHS to identify other ways in which we can support the pandemic response as it develops.

“I would like to thank all of our supporters not just for the donations but also for their messages of support during this extremely challenging time. We will do our best to maintain our service and keep being there for patients, albeit by road not air.”

If you feel you could help visit www.daat.org or the Facebook and Twitter pages at Devon Air Ambulance to find out more.