Since the launch of EAAA’s 24/7 service by air and road on 30 June and up until 7am on Monday 18 October, the charity’s crews have been tasked 307 times between 7pm and 7am, averaging nearly three missions a night. During this time, 87 of the taskings were by helicopter and 220 by rapid response vehicle.
As the nights draw in and the seasons change, the EAAA teams will be operating even more during the hours of darkness, to provide enhanced critical care, by air or by road, to people living across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.
EAAA has been providing 24/7 care from both its bases in Norwich and Cambridge by rapid response vehicle for the last 18 months but began flying around-the-clock for the first time on 30 June this year, extending the night-time helicopter emergency medical service coverage in the region from its previous finishing time at 1:30am to complete coverage through to 7am. This change saw EAAA become the first air ambulance in the East of England to become 24/7 by both air and by road.
As a result of the increased operational hours, the crews have been able to cover a much wider area in East Anglia at night, helping more patients than was previously possible. By air, the crews have been tasked to Peterborough, across north Norfolk, into the depths of south Suffolk and as far southwest as Harpenden in Hertfordshire, to a mixture of emergencies including accidental injuries, cardiac arrests, road traffic collisions, medical emergencies, self-harm incidents and assaults.
Matthew Jones, CEO of EAAA, said: “We’re just over three months into providing a fully 24/7 service for the region and we’re really pleased to see that our teams are already making a big difference to people all over East Anglia and beyond. We can see that we are being tasked over a much wider area at night than ever before, showing that we’re taking our enhanced critical care skills to those patients most in need of our help.
“Moving towards providing a 24/7 service has taken us the best part of four years and included raising an extra million pounds a year to fund this change, extending to 24/7 operations by rapid response vehicle first and expanding and renovating the charity’s HQ in Norwich, to adequately house a 24/7 service by air and by road. We are incredibly pleased to now be able to offer the same level of service, no matter what the time of day or night, to our patients and their families and this is only possible thanks to our incredible supporters.”
To facilitate the additional night flying at Norwich Airport also required upgrading the control system for the runway lights, costing around £60,000 which was kindly funded by the HELP Appeal. This drastically helps to reduce light pollution and saves energy by allowing the EAAA pilots to turn the lights on remotely via the aircraft VHF radio as they depart or approach the airport.
EAAA needs to raise £15 million a year to deliver and develop its life-saving service and is grateful to all of its supporters for the essential donations which keep the charity flying and have made a 24/7 service by air a reality for the people of East Anglia.
Robert Bertram, Chief Executive of the HELP Appeal, added: “We are proud to have played an integral role in upgrading EAAA’s operational infrastructure to ensure the success of its 24/7 helicopter emergency medical service.”
The HELP Appeal’s latest donation to EAAA’s Norwich base comes after it funded two sets of portable lights and covered the entire cost of the helipad upgrade at its Cambridge Airport base earlier this year. The resurfacing helped to ensure the safety of the crew and the helicopter from lose debris caused by wear and tear.
The HELP Appeal also funded the £250,000 helipad at Ipswich Hospital which included state of the art night lights enabling air ambulances to land around the clock.