Life-saving air ambulance bids to become a 24-hour service
PUBLISHED: 08:59 25 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:21 25 February 2019
The region's air ambulance has launched an ambitious plan to become a 24/7 service provider by 2020.
Charity East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) currently operates 365-days-a-year but not 24-hours-a-day, meaning that if an incident happened between midnight and 7am there is currently no helicopter emergency service provision in the region.
The charity is aiming to cover this gap and become a full 24/7 service next year, but to do that they need to raise an additional £1m a year to fund the operation.
The type of incidents the charity attend – serious road traffic collisions, cardiac arrests, traumatic injuries and other medical emergencies - do not stop when their crew go offline.
While a 24/7 service seemed to make sense, the charity needed to be sure, so have been gathering evidence to prove it.
They worked with the East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) to review incidents over the course of a year where critical care was required but unavailable.
They also assessed the need first-hand by trialling an overnight service via rapid response vehicle (RRV) four days a week from the Norwich base.
The results of this work confirmed a significant region-wide need for overnight critical care, particularly in rural Norfolk.
In the first twelve months of the overnight trial they attended 220 missions, but they say that with the helicopter they could do so much more.
Matthew Jones, director of operations at EAAA, 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.”
Steve Jones has witnessed first-hand the care that EAAA provide. In June last year, Steve was riding his motorcycle near Waxham, Norfolk, when a car he overtook turned into his path catapulting him from his motorbike, head-first through a brick wall and into a ditch filled with water. Steve was unconscious and submerged under the water.
At 11.04am the Anglia One crew was called.
Travelling by helicopter, they arrived on scene at 11.25am.
By this time the ditch was filled with Steve’s blood and the team knew they had to get him out quickly.
Steve was making gurgling noises but remained unconscious.
The crew made the decision to sedate and intubate him to take control of his breathing.
He was then flown to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, arriving there at 1.06pm. Steve had suffered such a traumatic head injury that the team thought he would not survive.
Steve remained in hospital for 10 weeks, but on the November 23 he walked in to the Norwich base to meet the EAAA team and the EEAST land paramedics who also provided treatment on scene. Not only has he suffered no lasting affects, but he is also in the process of finishing his PhD in software engineering.
Steve said: “My wife Claire and I are extremely grateful for the East Anglian Air Ambulance and their East of England Ambulance Service colleagues. I am in no doubt that these heroes saved my life on June 23, 2018 and I am optimistic and positive for the future which includes completing the last parts of my PhD and embarking on a software engineering industrial research career.”
If Steve’s accident had happened between the hours of midnight and 7am he would not have the received the treatment he did, and it is unlikely that he would have survived.
Another patient whose life was saved by the service was Jordan Greenwood, from Thetford.
On May 18, 2017 Jordan was travelling on his motorcycle when a car turned across his path and into him, throwing him from his motorcycle, causing a serious crushing injury to his right foot and ankle.
The Anglia One crew was called at 2.43pm and the helicopter landed on scene at 2.59pm, just 16 minutes later.
Once on scene it quickly became obvious to the team that Jordan had suffered horrific injuries and was in a lot of pain. They administered sedation and pain relief and placed his injured leg in a splint. Jordan was then airlifted to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, arriving at 4.04pm.
Despite the care that Jordan received, the hospital team was unable to save his injured leg and he had the lower half of his leg from the knee amputated.
Despite this, Jordan’s resilience and courage has seen him overcome his injuries with tenacity.
Jordan said: “I would like to thank the air ambulance for helping me, and I would just like to say that this has opened up so many opportunities that I would never have thought of before, like being a casualty to help train the military and playing an injured soldier on TV. Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.”
The charity said they are already incredibly grateful to the community for all their support, but are asking for help to raise the additional £1m a year needed to operate 24/7 so they can save more lives like Steve’s and Jordan’s.
If you would like to find out more about the campaign or to donate, please visit www.mission247.co.uk. You can also follow them on Facebook as East Anglian Air Ambulance and on Twitter as @EastAngliAirAmb.