Prince could become an East Anglian Air ambulance pilot
09:47 23 June 2014
Prince William is in talks with the East Anglian Air Ambulance service about becoming one of its pilots.
Comfy but no frills for emergency crews
Reporter Kim Briscoe, who
trained with the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) crew of the East
Anglian Air Ambulance, reflects on what work Prince William could expect as a pilot with the organisation.
In his time with the RAF’s Search and Rescue Force, the Duke of Cambridge will have gained many of the necessary skills to become an air ambulance pilot.
Landing and taking off
from airports and helipads
is one thing, but having to
land in fields, on roads and even on beaches is much riskier. Pilots have to continually make risk assessments and are ultimately responsible for the safety of the crew and passengers.
On a typical HEMS mission this will include the pilot, a critical care paramedic and a doctor. If Prince William becomes a pilot with the EAAA he can expect to be called out to wide range of missions,
from responding to horse-riding injuries, road traffic collisions and motocross accidents to general medical emergencies.
If he were to work at the charity’s base at Cambridge Airport, he could expect quite basic accommodation.
When not on missions,
the crew spend their time
in a couple of small
rooms. One is an office, where emergency calls are taken, and another has a few comfy chairs, where they can
relax while waiting for call-outs.
Basic but comfortable, it is a far cry from the luxury of a palace.
The move could see the prince and his young family spending more
time in Norfolk and would mean he would be routinely responding to accidents and emergencies across our region.
A source at the service confirmed that negotiations with the Duke of Cambridge were taking place
and said the charity was “very hopeful” he would chose to work for them.
However, the source added that the East Anglian pilot role was one of several options the prince was considering.
A decision on the future career of the prince – who stepped down as an RAF search and rescue pilot nine months ago – is expected shortly.
Should he take up the job, he and the Duchess of Cambridge, and their son might spend more time at Anmer Hall, on the Sandringham Estate, which lies midway between the service’s bases at Norwich and Cambridge.
Officials for the prince have stressed that Kensington Palace would remain their official, permanent home, but the post would certainly cement the couple’s ties to the area. The Duchess of Cambridge is already a patron of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, which has sites across the region.
If the prince does sign up. he will join a roster of pilots, mainly from military backgrounds, who currently fly the ambulance service’s two yellow twin-engine EC 135 T2 helicopters.
They can reach anywhere in the Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire in 25 minutes. The pilots are employed by Bond Air Services, with salaries ranging from £40,000 to £60,000, but it is not known if the prince would be paid.
The source at the service said there were “no obstacles” from the charity’s point of view to him joining.
“It is understood that if he did so, he would be based out of Cambridge, where a new helicopter is going into service next year.
News of the talks with the service have been welcomed by leading
local figures. Waveney MP Peter Aldous said: “Prince William is a very skilled helicopter pilot and anything that raises the profile of the air ambulance and the work they do is good news.”
Health minister Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, said: “I would massively welcome it. It would bring enormous focus to the fantastic work of the air ambulance. It is of incredible value to our region, particularly given its rural nature and the coastline. I think this would be a brilliant thing for him to do.”
Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman said: “The EAAA is a great local medical charity. With a young family and increasingly important Royal duties, this is a great way for the prince to put his pilot training to work for the good of the community in a flexible way outside full-time military service. We would be lucky to have him.”
A spokesman for Prince William said: “An announcement will be made in due course.”
No one was available from the service.
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