'Final piece of the jigsaw' - Delight over EAAA move to Norwich base
- Credit: BlueSky UAV
The new East Anglian Air Ambulance [EAAA] base at Norwich Airport has been described as the "final piece of the jigsaw" which will help the charity see to an estimated 400 more people every year.
The Anglia One helicopter team will start flying 24/7 from the newly built operating base in June after a short settling-in period.
Matthew Jones, director of operations for EAAA, said the charity had been setting its sights on the new facility since 2010 with a view to operating round the clock.
A number of sites were identified in and around Norwich with the charity identifying the need for greater service for the east and north of the county due to the road networks.
Mr Jones said: "For us this really is the final piece of the jigsaw and a necessary step to fly 24/7. It has been quite a long time and this the final part of the process.
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"Our staff were split between two sites in Norwich and our fundraising colleagues were in a separate building so this gets everyone close together and back in one place. Our old places were fine but were becoming a bit cramped by the end."
Funded through generous gifts in wills, the £7 million development will enable the charity to carry out more missions after planning was officially granted for the base in November 2019.
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It will make EAAA the first air ambulance in the East of England to fly 24/7 and Mr Jones said the extended service is estimated to serve 400 more patients, which is the equivalent of one person every day and 600 missions.
The charity will be utilising the runway at the airport for when helicopters return to base at night after aircraft operations have ceased.
Mr Jones said the airport have been very supportive with the move, with the base including training, rest and welfare facilities as well as a helipad and aircraft hangar.
Groundworks had started in January 2020 after the pandemic delayed the process by six months.
Mr Jones said: "I did not think it would never get through but it has been difficult with the complete shutdown of the site during the first lockdown."