Were you the first air ambulance patient in Norfolk?

First EAAA helicopter

The very first EAAA helicopter pictured in February 2001 - Credit: EAAA

A life-saving service is calling on the people of Norfolk to help it fill in the gaps when tracking its very first patient. 

The East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) flew its very first official mission on this day 20 years ago to help someone in a serious condition.

Records show the first flight was at 4pm on Friday, February 9 with a total time of 25 minutes for the mission. 

The helicopter was a black Bolkow 105, built in 1977, and was also used as a police helicopter.

And the crew was a single pilot and two paramedics, different to the double pilot and doctor and critical care paramedic teams who operate today.  


The EAAA is now close to flying 24/7 - Credit: Stephen Sparks

With this mission being the very early days of the EAAA, having only been set up a few months earlier, the exact records have been lost over time.

Patrick Peal, the chief executive officer of EAAA said: “Looking back on the achievement of our very first flight, we’d really like to know more about who it was that we helped that day.

"In the very beginning, it was a tiny organisation and we don’t have many records from that exciting time. However, we do know that the first patient was definitely in Norfolk." 

It is believed the location of the first mission was within a 15 mile radius of Norwich airport, which covers a good portion of the county. 

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This is based on the speed of the fist helicopter which travelled around 80mph-much slower than the current H145 model which has a speed of 120mph. 

Mr Peal added: “We’ve really enjoyed being able to look back at where the service started, and where it is now.

"And knowing more about that very first flight and patient would be a great thing for us to learn, but we need some help from the community and would like to hear from anyone who may know more.”

EAAA records show the first time a patient was flown to hospital was a month later, on Friday, March 2 2001. This was a snowy day and the patient was a teenager who was involved in a collision with a car in Stalham.

Within just six months, by July 2001, the EAAA was flying seven days a week.

The charity now has the aim of flying 24/7, as it continues to expand as a service.

Mr Peal said this ambition has been slightly delayed by the pandemic, but they are now "really close" to this becoming a reality, with the continued support of donors. 

If you, or a friend/neighbour, were that very first EAAA patient, contact 03450 669 999 or email info@eaaa.org.uk.