East Anglian Air Ambulance provide update on “operational issues”

East Anglian Air Ambulance provide update on “operational issues”

21-Feb-2011 Source: East Anglian Air Ambulance

The NHS Ambulance Trust has praised the ‘remarkable speed’ in which the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) solved a potentially difficult air operations issue this weekend.

Late on Friday afternoon the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) temporarily suspended the Air Operators Certificate (AOC) of Norwich-based firm Sterling Aviation due to procedural issues. This meant the two yellow helicopters Anglia One (based at Norwich Airport) and Anglia Two (based at Cambridge Airport) were grounded. However, the charity quickly activated their contingency plan and brought in aircraft supplied by an alternative operator, Bond Air Services.

The first of the two red replacement helicopters has now flown in to the charity’s Cambridgeshire base – and the second arrives at Norwich Airport this morning. However, there were no air ambulance missions over the weekend due to adverse weather conditions across East Anglia.

Dr Pam Chrispin, Medical Director for the NHS Ambulance Trust (EEAST), said: “Obviously we were concerned to hear that Sterling Aviation were unable to provide their normal service for the charity. EAAA has acted with remarkable speed and professionalism in putting in place the interim arrangements and I am delighted that these will be up and running so quickly.

“The NHS Ambulance Trust values the relationship we have with EAAA as a partner across the four counties. It is this kind of strong collaborative working that has seen this weekend’s issues quickly resolved.”

Deputy Chief Executive of the EAAA Steve Whitby added:  “There have been rumours over the weekend that our service has been suspended and I want to take this opportunity to reassure all those who support us that this is not the case and, in fact, it’s very much ‘business as usual’.

“We were told late on Friday 18th February that Sterling’s Air Operators Certificate had been suspended and we then immediately activated our contingency plan to source alternative aircraft.  Unfortunately weather conditions across the region on Saturday meant that no aircraft were able to fly so we operated our service by rapid response car instead.

“As of Sunday 20th February we had one of the two replacement aircraft in place at our base at Cambridge Airport. The second will be operational on Monday and our service will operate as usual. While the situation with Sterling Aviation is unfortunate, it is our mission to provide a first class air ambulance service across the region and that’s what we’ll continue to do.  We’re grateful to our many partners, including EEAST for their support.”

The aircraft, which are red rather in than the charity’s usual yellow livery, are operating in exactly the same way as Anglia One and Anglia Two, bringing the charity’s highly skilled doctors and paramedic teams to the scene of serious incidents and medical emergencies across the region.  The charity has recently launched an enhanced and sustainable service which it believes will help save more lives across the four counties it serves.   It has worked closely with the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) in developing the new service which will, for the first time, provide a guaranteed doctor/paramedic crew on board its aircraft 365 days a year – a staffing level regarded as the ‘gold standard’ for air ambulances.

The temporary aircraft are Bolkow 105s, a type of aircraft widely used for air ambulance work around the UK and the rest of the world, and which were still regularly used by the EAAA as backups to their BK 117 helicopters. The EAAA’s partners at Essex and Hertfordshire Air Ambulance Trust (EHAAT) and at the EEAST are fully aware and supportive of the move it’s made to ensure the continuity of its service.

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