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THE newest member of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance team is local pilot Elvis Costello.
His real first name is David but he has been dubbed Elvis ever since he was a child and is more than happy to be named after the singer-songwriter.
This is Elvis’s first posting as a HEMS (helicopter emergency medical service) pilot and he ‘sings the praises’ of the paramedics and his fellow pilots at Wiltshire Air Ambulance.
He said, “The medical staff and pilots are fantastic. This job is all about teamwork and it is amazing to be working with them in order to get the job done in the best possible way, during what can be difficult situations. Watching the paramedics at work is awesome. The critical care they give saves lives. It’s brilliant to be part of the team at Wiltshire Air Ambulance helping people when they need it most.”
Elvis joined Wiltshire Air Ambulance in September after 11 years flying helicopters to offshore oil and gas platforms in the North Sea, from both Aberdeen and Norwich.
Originally from Glasgow, Elvis has been flying helicopters since 1999 in all types of terrain and weather environments around the world. He has flown a range of helicopters, including Robinson 22, Agusta Westland 139 and Super Puma, and has flown almost 6,000 hours.
He added, “Being a HEMS pilot is very different from working in the offshore industry, as every day is different. You also have to draw heavily on your judgement and decision-making, which is very challenging and ultimately very rewarding.
“This is the first time I have flown a Bell 429 helicopter. It’s powerful but more importantly, the interior has been designed to optimise the delivery of critical care.”
Elvis, who is moving to Melksham to live with his family, has been struck by the support and admiration for Wiltshire Air Ambulance by the public, who he meets when he lands at incidents.
“Everywhere I go in the county the charity is visible,” he said. “At every incident I attend people tell me that they’ve participated in a run, cycle or collection for us and people are always interested to know how they can donate. It’s a really good way for us to meet the public and they can see that their donations are making a difference.
“However, not everyone is aware that Wiltshire Air Ambulance is a charity and it is important for all of us to get that message across. The charity team have a very big challenge of co-ordinating the fundraising and it is incredible that over £3million is raised each year by donations.”
Elvis is especially impressed with the charity’s new airbase at Semington, near Melksham.
“The new airbase is great and it works very well for our operation, as well as bringing all of the charity together under one roof. It’s important to have everyone together when possible, as well as being a great place for supporters and volunteers to visit,” he said.
Elvis does like the music of his namesake; his favourite song being Ship Building. He is married with a four-year-old son, also called Elvis.