Horror crash survivor backs air ambulance in 24-hour bid
- Credit: Archant
'They are heroes, but if my accident had been after midnight, there's no way I'd be here now.'
Those are the words of Stephen Jones, 33, who was left in a coma for five weeks after his motorcycle was involved in a horrific crash.
He is in no doubt he owes his life to the East Anglian Air Ambulance.
And he is backing the charity's £1m a year appeal which would allow it to fly round the clock.
The air ambulance currently operates 365-days-a-year, but not 24-hours-a-day. If an incident happens between midnight and 7am there is no helicopter emergency service in the region.
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The charity is aiming to plug that gap and become a full 24/7 service next year, but it needs to raise money to allow that to happen.
Air ambulance bosses say they believe it will allow them to treat about 600 more patients each year.
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Mr Jones, from Easton, knows how the helicopter can be the difference between life and death.
In June last year, he was riding his Yamaha F26 Fazer motorbike - called Miranda - near Waxham when a car he overtook turned into his path.
He was catapulted head first through a brick wall and into a ditch filled with water.
The Anglia One helicopter was called at 11.04am and was on scene at 11.25am, By this time the ditch was filled with blood from the unconscious Mr Jones.
The crew quickly got him out, sedated him, inserted tubes to help him breath and flew him to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.
His head injuries were so severe, the ambulance crew did not think he would survive. He had suffered three bleeds on the brain, along with four broken ribs.
He was in a coma for five weeks and spent 10 weeks in hospital.
But Mr Jones is recovering and looking to finish the PhD in software engineering at the UEA which he had been working on before that fateful June day.
He said: 'I am lucky to be alive and if it wasn't for those guys I wouldn't be.
'Thanks to them I'm still here, I've the opportunity to finish my PhD and to pursue the career I want.
'It's so important the air ambulance can fly 24 hours a day.
'People having strokes, or heart attacks, or crashes - it happens at all times of the day.
'I'd urge people to get involved with fundraising for this charity. You never know when you might need them.'
Matthew Jones, director of operations at the East Anglian Air Ambulance, said; 'Becoming a 24/7 service by air will provide the people of East Anglia with a service that has not previously been available.
By operating 24/7 we believe that we will treat approximately 600 more patients every year.
Patient care is at the heart of everything we do at EAAA, so if we can be there for 600 more people each year and further reduce the impact of trauma and medical emergencies in the community then this is a great step forward for us.
'We currently need to raise £12M a year to operate our service, and it will cost an additional £1m a year to fund a full 24/7 operation.'
The charity would need to employ two or three more pilots and three or four more paramedics to cover the extra hours.
To find out more about the campaign or to donate, visit www.mission247.co.uk. You can also follow them on Facebook at 'East Anglian Air Ambulance' and on Twitter as @EastAngliAirAmb.