1-Dec-2014 Source: EAAA
Gerry Hermer is a much loved and respected colleague, working with East Anglian Air Ambulance.
Following a distinguished career in the RAF as a Search & Rescue pilot, during which he was awarded the Air Force Cross, Gerry Hermer left the forces and started up two successful aviation businesses based in Norwich, Norfolk – including Sterling Aviation, of which he was Managing Director. During this time, he was the driving force behind the establishment of both the first Norfolk Police Helicopter and subsequently the East Anglian Air Ambulance – both of which he flew for as well.
Following his retirement from Sterling Aviation, Gerry continued his relationship with EAAA and became the Aviation Consultant for the charity. In this position, he has been a key player in moving the charity forward in the service it provides. His experience as both pilot and aircraft supplier have given him a unique perspective allowing him to develop procedures and techniques to improve both the safety and efficiency of the services.
A key example of the extraordinary value Gerry has brought to EAAA was his role in the long process to obtain approval for EAAA to fly night HEMS missions – achieved by the charity May 2013. It was Gerry’s expertise, energy, enthusiasm and tenacity that meant that EAAA was able to work together with Bond Air Services and the CAA to make significant progress in an area new to all air ambulance charities in the UK. We were delighted to be the first air ambulance charity in England to achieve this, and even happier that other air ambulances have been able to start developing this extended service themselves, in large part because of the work done by Gerry.
The East Anglian Air Ambulance continues to benefit from Gerry’s commitment to continue to develop and improve the aviation capacity of this ambitious charity, despite his supposed retirement. He continues to outpace us all, not just maintaining the excellence that he has helped us to achieve, but consistently improving the service we provide. In the last few years alone Gerry has been instrumental in:
1) introducing a 12 hour shift pattern to the Norwich base, ensuring an extended HEMS service for local people
2) identifying, securing and introducing the EC145T2; EAAA will be the first air ambulance in the UK to take delivery of this model and it will enable the charity to provide an advanced level of service from its Cambridge base
3) running a trial on a wireless intercom system, allowing crews to communicate when away from the helicopter
4) establishing a lighting facility at Cambridge University Hospital’s helipad and extending the helipad operating hours to midnight
5) working with hospitals throughout the four counties to consider the provision of a helipad
6) working closely with the comms team in finding acceptable ways of filming on board – critical for the promotion of the added value of a HEMS service
In addition, Gerry has been a key advisor to EAAA, Bond Air Services and Kensington Palace, navigating all ssues arising from the employment of HRH the Duke of Cambridge. This will be the first time the future sovereign of the United Kingdom will have been employed by a private company, and Gerry’s experience, expertise and ability to anticipate future issues have been invaluable. By guiding the charity (and Kensington Palace) through this process Gerry has given not only EAAA, but all UK air ambulances a wonderful opportunity to highlight the work that we do on a national and international stage.
Gerry is well known throughout the industry, earning respect and admiration for his remarkable achievements. His attention to detail, aviation knowledge and clear focus on safety and procedure has earned him an enviable reputation. His work ethic, commitment and belief in the mission of the charity set an example to all who work with him. He is an excellent role model to the younger members of the charity and is respected by everyone who is lucky enough to work with him. Excellence in quality, performance and safety are Gerry’s key drivers – critical in our important lifesaving work.
“There are not many people in the aviation world who do not know Gerry Hermer! His expertise, not only as an aviation consultant, but also as an air services provider and a pilot that means that he has an in depth understanding of every element of what we do. So many of our successes would not have been possible were it not for him, pushing us forward.” John Himpleman, Director of Operations, East Anglian Air Ambulance
“I have known and worked with Gerry since the early 80’s. He is utterly dependable, very modest and a widely-respected professional expert in commercial aviation. It was Gerry who not only identified the need for an air ambulance in the region in 1997 but also set up and ran a trial service that very quickly proved its worth and the need. He has been one of the rocks on which this charity has been built, first as the boss of the company that provided the helicopters for the charity and latterly (after retirement) as a trusted adviser and consultant to the charity. He played a major role in getting approval from the aviation authority (the CAA) to run the first HEMS night operations in the UK – no mean feat. This charity and the people of East Anglia owe Gerry a big debt of gratitude.” Patrick Peal, CEO, East Anglian Air Ambulance
For more information regarding Gerry’s whole career please see the timeline below:
1) Late 1960s: Trained as a pilot in the RAF – Search and Rescue
Gerry started his aviation career in the Royal Air Force where he worked as an engineer before training as a helicopter pilot, flying Sea Kings on Search and Rescue missions. He was also a qualified instructor on Gazelles.
2) 1977: Awarded Air Force Cross for rescuing crew of German ship in treacherous weather
Gerry was awarded the Air Force Cross in 1977 when, just after completing basic training as a Flight Lieutenant, he was sent to rescue the crew of a sinking German ship 45 miles east of Flamborough Head. Weather conditions were treacherous with gale force winds, snow and hail making his mission very dangerous. He had to refuel twice, landing the first time on a rolling tanker, a manoeuvre for which he had not been trained. Despite this, he managed to pluck one of the crew to safety and helped ensure the others were picked up by the tanker.
3) 1989: Founder of East Coast Helicopters and Sterling Aviation
On leaving the RAF, Gerry founded East Coast helicopters before setting up Sterling Aviation with two businessmen in 1989.
4) CAA qualified examiner and helicopter instructor
5) 1990: Driving force behind the establishment of Norfolk’s first Police helicopter
Gerry Hermer: “The most satisfying part of my career has really been being one of the principal instigators in setting up the police helicopter and the air ambulance.”
6) 2000: Founding member of the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA); Sterling Aviation provides helicopters and pilots for EAAA(including Gerry who flys for the charity)
Simon Gray, Chief Executive of EAAA (2004-2011): “With his wealth of experience in search and rescue operations, Gerry was quick to recognise the benefits that a helicopter-based medical service could bring to the region and was instrumental in making the air ambulance service a reality. Working with a small group who shared his vision and who later went on to become trustees of the EAAA, he developed the service from scratch and Sterling later won a European-wide tender to provide our aircraft.”
7) 2001: Sterling Aviation provides helicopters and pilots for EAAA (including Gerry who flies for the charity)
Starting with one day a week, the first aircraft, a Bolkow 105, was commissioned from Sterling Aviation for EAAA in 2000. Sterling then continued to supply aircraft and pilots for over 10 years with Gerry often flying the air ambulance. Working as both a pilot on the air ambulance and supplier Gerry was acutely aware of the requirements and demands placed on the aircraft and its crew. This allowed him the opportunity to develop procedures and techniques as well as address safety issues at a National Level. He remains a member of the BHAB (British Helicopter Advisory Board).
8) 2010: Became Aviation Advisor to East Anglian Air Ambulance
Following his retirement from Sterling in 2010, Gerry continued to work closely with the EAAA and became their Aviation Advisor – using his extensive knowledge and experience to reinforce Charity operations.
9) 2012: Key negotiator in establishing a helipad at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Trauma Centre
The funds for establishing a helipad were raised through a series of events, the hard work of negotiating with Addenbrooke’s, city planners, the land owners and Bond was tirelessly and doggedly led by Gerry who really ‘made it happen’.
10) 2013: Plays a highly significant role in EAAA becoming the first dedicated air ambulance in the UK to fly night HEMS missions
Following 18 months of hard work, in May 2013 the East Anglian Air Ambulance became the first dedicated air ambulance in the UK to fly HEMS missions during the hours of darkness. As Aviation Advisor, Gerry was a key part of this process – working closely with the Charity’s aircraft operator, Bond, to make the modifications needed to the helicopters and liaising with the CAA to ensure certification.
11) 2013: Aviation Lead for simulated night HEMS exercise involving all emergency services
Details about this event can be found here: http://www.eveningnews24.co.uk/news/norfolk_air_supremo_to_retire_1_488969
12) 2013: Key speaker on night HEMS at the Helitech Conference
13) 2014: Gerry plays a key role in the introduction of 12-hour shifts to EAAA’s Norwich base
14) 2014: Gerry plays a key role in advising Kensington Palace regarding the appointment of HRH the Duke of Cambridge to the position of air ambulance pilot with EAAA