It’s lift-off as the new air ambulance takes to skies

PUBLISHED: 11:48 13 April 2006 | UPDATED: 14:38 12 May 2010

The new air ambulance

The new air ambulance

THE launch of the new East Anglian Air Ambulance took place on Tuesday with supporters looking on as it landed for the first time. The clouds opened just as the BK117 helicopter touched down in Quy – but it did not dampen people s spirits. People gathered

THE launch of the new East Anglian Air Ambulance took place on Tuesday with supporters looking on as it landed for the first time.

The clouds opened just as the BK117 helicopter touched down in Quy - but it did not dampen people's spirits.

People gathered around the helicopter and were impressed with its size and capability.

Steve Coningsby of Royston Motorcycle Club said: "It's like a Rolls-Royce compared to the old one."

John Stone, an air ambulance paramedic, said: "The new aircraft is slightly faster and offers more space.

"It's better for our backs and we can get three people in the back and a stretcher area will enable us to carry out more procedures."

The new helicopter can carry two passengers instead of only one.

There is a better trauma wall where a lot of the key medical equipment is held, including a respiratory ventilator and a multi-monitor and defibrillator for checking blood pressure and oxygen in the blood.

Simon Gray, executive director of East Anglian Air Ambulance, said: "I am absolutely delighted with the new helicopter. It will definitely save more lives."

Two years ago, the service decided it needed a new aircraft, with the old one now 27 years old.

"It was our operators, Sterling Aviation, who identified the new helicopter in Italy," he said.

"But our old helicopter will be a back-up and during the summer we will operate both.

"Eventually, we hope the NHS will give us funding to run both."

Two people who were rescued by the air ambulance are now great supporters.

Ian Linge, 47, a mechanic, was rescued by paramedics Tim Daniels and Dave Bennett, after suffering severe burns in an accident.

He said: "It was a life-saving thing. They got me on morphine and flew me to hospital within minutes.

"For people who are frightened of travelling alone it's great that there is room in the new helicopter for an extra passenger because my wife was upset when she had to leave me and drive to the hospital by herself."

Karen Webster, whose eight-year-old son was rescued by the air ambulance after a car accident, said: "They saved my son's life. If he hadn't have been airlifted he could have been paralysed."

Unfortunately, there is no financial support from the Government or the National Lottery for the air ambulance service so the charity relies on donations and sponsorship.

Dave Atherton, general manager of Anglian Self-Drive, which sponsors the air ambulance and provides vehicles to help with fund-raising, said: "The new helicopter is fantastic.

"People wouldn't be able to get to hospital without it, especially when there is lots of traffic on the road.

"It's just a shame it doesn't get any Government funding."

Alison Horsley, the air ambulance fund-raising co-ordinator for South Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk, said: "The new helicopter is amazing. I still can't believe we have managed to achieve getting it.

"It will allow us to carry out advance clinical procedures and carry two patients.

"It will also make the doctors' and paramedics' jobs easier."

- Anyone who would like to make a donation to the charity or contribute to the in-house lottery should call 08450 66 9999.

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