East Anglian Air Ambulance teams up with Essex and Herts for extended flying hours

Two of the region's air ambulances will be joining forces again this summer to extend their hours of flying.

The East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) and the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust (EHAAT) each operate two helicopters, which will be staggered between them to ensure that their crews can cover the longer summer days.

The agreement, which was trialled successfully in 2011 with the help of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST), takes effect on Monday, April 2, ensuring that crews are operational from 7am until sunset.

Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) pilots are scheduled to work a maximum of 10 hours on a shift, so by linking up and staggering their crew start times, both charities are able to provide a HEMS service from 7am to 9pm or sunset, right across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire.

Last year this led to an additional 75 missions between April and September, including road traffic collisions in the morning and evening rush hours, as well as cardiac arrests and falls from height.

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The helicopters, equipped with an array of life-saving equipment, can reach even remote or inaccessible areas quickly, enabling the medical teams to begin emergency treatment at the incident site. When necessary, they can also fly patients to the most appropriate hospital to treat their condition.

The East Anglian Air Ambulance also hopes to extend its service to cover the hours of darkness later this year. The charity will shortly be taking delivery of the first of two 'night capable' aircraft and is working to secure Civil Aviation Authority approval to fly at night.

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EAAA chief executive Tim Page said: 'We already work closely with the EHAAT and EEAST, so joining forces to ensure that an air ambulance service is available even across the longest days of the summer is an obvious way to increase the overall standard of pre-hospital care for people in the region we serve.'

Pam Chrispin, the ambulance service's medical director, said: 'Our focus is always on the delivery of best possible care for patients and the partnership with our two regional air ambulance charities affords consistent and high quality specialist treatment to those most seriously ill and injured. This initiative proved very successful last year and will again provide an invaluable additional service across the East of England.'


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