East Anglian Air Ambulance launches appeal for new equipment
For more than a decade, the East Anglian Air Ambulance has been saving lives across the region.
But now the charity needs the help of Eastern Daily Press readers to ensure it can continue to provide the very best vital emergency care to those in need.
The EAAA wants to further improve the life-saving service it provides over the next two years, with two new helicopters on order, a plan to start flying at night and making sure it has the very latest emergency medical equipment available for crews.
The EDP has teamed up with its sister paper the East Anglian Daily Times to launch a joint �50,000 appeal to help the charity raise funds for a new ventilator machine, ultrasound machine and two blood analysers.
Air ambulance chief executive Tim Page said: 'Put simply, these plans will enable us to save more lives. The delivery of emergency medicine in a pre-hospital environment is extremely difficult and therefore our capability depends on two things – brilliantly skilled clinicians and providing them with the best possible kit available to support them in administering to the patients.'
The charity's lead doctors have specifically asked for the new equipment as they strive to continually improve what the crews can do to help the most seriously ill and injured patients before they can be safely taken to hospital.
Mr Page said: 'We need the help and support of those people across the region who we ultimately need to provide the service for. Thankfully we are not helping everybody every day.
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'But some day, those who support us may need us.
'We are very much a charity belonging to the people of East Anglia.'
In rural counties like Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, communities are acutely aware of the value of the EAAA.
All three cover a large geographical area and the speed with which the charity can take highly-skilled medics out to a cardiac arrest patient or injured horse rider can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.
The charity is also hoping to extend its operation into the hours of darkness, so it can help to save more lives, particularly during busy rush hours in the winter.
At the moment the charity can only operate during daylight, but later this summer it is due to take delivery of a new helicopter, which will be equipped for night-time flying.
But the plan to fly at night, which is subject to Civil Aviation Authority approval, along with other improvements and rising prices, means the charity expects its running costs to rise from its existing �4.5m per year to �6m by January 2014.
The charity has no government funding or national lottery funding, and is funded entirely by public donation. Chief executive Tim Page said: 'There is no doubt that by flying extended hours we will be able to save more lives.'
At the moment the charity works in close partnership with its sister charity, the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance, to stagger pilot shift times in the summer so together they can provide cover across the six counties from dawn to dusk. But the hopes are that in the future the EAAA will be able to fly from 6am through to around midnight or 1am in the morning.
The charity's two existing aircraft, based at Cambridge Airport and Norwich International Airport, are each manned by an experienced doctor, either an anaesthetics or an emergency medicine specialist, and a critical care paramedic.
Both possess enhanced clinical skills and an important part of the charity's work is bringing this added expertise to a casualty as quickly as possible – with the helicopters able to reach anywhere in East Anglia within 20 minutes.
The helicopters are also used to transport the most seriously ill, or potentially ill, patients to hospital very rapidly.
However, in the majority of cases patients that have been stabilised and given pain relief, and who are often put to sleep, are then safely transported to hospital by land ambulance.