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UK: East Anglian Air Ambulance has sufficient funds to allow second helicopter to fly 7 days a week

16th December 2008 - 07:39 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


Thanks to the commitment of its supporters, the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA), operator of Anglia Two, the air ambulance serving Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, has announced that the aircraft will be operational seven days a week from 15 December 2008.

Anglia Two, one of the most advanced air ambulances in the UK, took to the skies in August 2007 but, until now, funding has only been available for the aircraft to fly five days a week. Despite the difficult economic climate, the EAAA says that its supporters have dug deep and, as a result, Anglia Two can now move to full operational service.

The aircraft is crewed by highly trained clinicians from emergency medical charity Magpas which has sourced additional volunteer doctors to serve aboard. In addition to the doctors, the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust provides paramedics who work alongside the doctors to form an Emergency Medical Team or EMT. These paramedics have received additional training from Magpas.

Since it began operations last year, Anglia Two has attended serious incidents in Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire more than 400 times despite being operational only five days a week. Based on these figures, the EAAA and Magpas believe that moving the helicopter up to seven day a week operations will enable it to attend an additional 150 patients a year.

Research shows that victims of medical emergencies or accidents stand a better chance of surviving or making a full recovery if they receive definitive medical attention within the first hour, or ‘Golden Hour'. The availability of an air ambulance enables medical teams to reach patients, even those in remote or inaccessible areas, quickly and because Magpas' clinicians are so highly trained, they can begin treatment at the accident site. Anglia Two carries an array of the latest medical equipment and the range of procedures which can be carried out by its crew on site is increasing all the time.

Commenting on Anglia Two's move to a seven day service, Simon Gray, Executive Director of the EAAA, commented: "This is the news we've been waiting for and we're delighted to have reached this point despite the challenging economic conditions.

"We've been able to do this only because of the incredible support we've received from our fundraisers, supporters and volunteers in both counties. We're so grateful for all their hard work and hope they will continue to support us to ensure we can sustain the extended service. We believe it will bring a real benefit to everyone living in or passing through the counties.

"I'd also like to thank Magpas. Its highly skilled doctors make a huge contribution to the service. Between us, we are now even better equipped to save lives across the region."

Ian Brooke, Chief Executive of Magpas, added, "This is great news. It has been frustrating for the Magpas team to have had Anglia Two's availability limited to five of the seven days we cover. Having the helicopter join the service full time will make a big difference because we will now have the capacity to use whichever form of transport is the best for each particular incident, seven days a week."

The EAAA operates a 365 day life-saving service across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. It receives no government or National Lottery funding and has to raise £3 million per year to keep its two air ambulances flying and to provide the advanced medical equipment they carry. It is entirely dependent on fund-raising and contributions from members of the public.

The EAAA's first aircraft, Anglia One, provides a dedicated service to Norfolk and Suffolk while the second, Anglia Two, crewed by clinicians from emergency medical charity Magpas, provides the service for Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. In July 2008, EAAA and Magpas agreed to plan a merger in order to create the most advanced emergency care service in the UK.

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