Two UK EMS charities work together to extend hours

Two UK EMS charities work together to extend hours 30 Mar, 12, Source: Essex & Herts Air Ambulance

People living and working in the East of England will again benefit from a unique partnership between the region’s two Air Ambulance Charities this summer.

Under the agreement, trialled successfully in 2011, the Charities will collaborate with the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) to extend their service to cover the longer summer days. The new arrangements take effect on Monday 2 April, ensuring that Air Ambulance Crews are operational across the region from 7.00 am until sunset.  Currently the aircraft go off line at around 6 pm.

Between them, the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust (EHAAT) and the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA), which each operate two aircraft, cover the counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Norfolk.

Every day, their emergency trained Doctor/Paramedic Crews are tasked to the scene of serious accidents and medical emergencies across the region by the EEAST. The helicopters, equipped with an array of life-saving equipment, can reach even remote or inaccessible areas quickly enabling the medical teams to begin emergency treatment at the incident site. When necessary they can also fly patients to the most appropriate hospital to treat their condition.

From 2 April, one helicopter from the EHAAT and one from the EAAA will cover the early part of the day while each Charity’s second aircraft will cover the end of the day. All four aircraft will be operational for the main part of the day.

This partnership follows a recent announcement by the East Anglian Air Ambulance that it hopes to become the first dedicated Air Ambulance operating in the UK to extend its service to cover the hours of darkness later this year. East Anglian Air Ambulance will shortly be taking delivery of the first of two ‘night capable’ aircraft and is working with its operator Bond Air Services to secure Civil Aviation Authority approval to fly at night.  The CAA has been cautious about allowing Air Ambulances to operate in the hours of darkness but the capability of the latest generation of helicopters, when combined with recent advances in both Crew training and equipment, mean that this may now be possible for experienced organisations such as those that provide daytime cover in East Anglia.

Cliff Gale, EHAAT Operations Director, said: “Building on the success of the initiative trialled last year, we are looking forward to working with the EAAA and the EEAST to, once again, provide a high class clinical service to the people in all six counties in the region for longer by using the Crews and the four helicopters we operate. For the majority of the week the Essex helicopter will mirror the Cambridge aircraft shifts and Norwich the Herts operation. By varying each aircraft’s start time, the service will be available for longer.”

EAAA Chief Executive Tim Page, said: “We already work closely with the EHAAT and EEAST so, joining forces to ensure that an Air Ambulance service is available even across the longest days of the Summer, is an obvious way to increase the overall standard of pre-hospital care for people in the region we serve. By the time the days are drawing in again, we hope to be launching another major enhancement to our service – our move to night operations. Accidents and medical emergencies, such as strokes and heart attacks, can happen at any time and the care provided by the EAAA and EHAAT is often instrumental in saving lives.  For this reason, we at EAAA are working towards being able to respond to the needs of those who need by day or at night.”

Dr Pam Chrispin, EEAST Medical Director, said: “Our focus is always on the delivery of best possible care for patients and the partnership with our two regional air ambulance charities affords consistent and high quality specialist treatment to those most seriously ill and injured. This initiative proved very successful last year and will again provide an invaluable additional service across the East of England.”

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