24-May-2016 Source: HeliHub.com
The Air Ambulance Service (TAAS) have confirmed to HeliHub.com that they are to add two AgustaWestland AW169s to their fleet, and both will be dedicated to their pediatric operation, known as The Children’s Air Ambulance (TCAA). One will be based in North and one in the South of England in order to provide a national service, although the actual locations have not yet been announced. We consider it is likely that one will be at Sheffield Children’s Hospital in Yorkshire.
The first AW169 is expected to be in service in January 2017, with the second following in May 2017 according to TAAS press officer Emily Magdij. HeliHub.com considers those dates optimistic.
The operational model for EMS helicopters in England and Wales is one of charitable funding, and with very few exceptions, each Air Ambulance charity has its own defined area and thus no competition arises. One overlap is the picturesque county of Cumbria, where both Great North Air Ambulance and North West Air Ambulance are regularly seen providing cover.
The move by TAAS to create a more visible national operation will annoy many of the other air ambulance operators in England and Wales, re-opening the wounds of the TAAS original launch of TCAA in early 2012. While each operating charity only fundraise in their own area, and a number of them found TAAS “competing” for money locally on the basis that TCAA work covers much more than just the two areas flown from the two TAAS bases at Coventry and East Midlands Airport, which do cover specific “non-overlap” areas.
It is only to be expected that the move from a lone AW109S (photo below) to two larger AW169s for TCAA will require a step rise in fundraising effort and the move to two separate bases will give TAAS the opportunity to say they are local in those areas.
Many of the other 18 charities make sure their press coverage includes pediatric stories to promote that work in their (fund-raising) area in an attempt to side-step TAAS. Wales Air Ambulance goes as far as having a separate website domain name on the tail of their EC135s – as seen here. Back in 2012, one organisation issued a press release saying that it “has no reason to believe money given to the TCAA or TAAS will help a single child” and then had to withdraw it.
Are we to expect fireworks again?
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com