Charity launches 24-hour air ambulance for Sussex

The Argus: Charity launches 24-hour air ambulance for Sussex Charity launches 24-hour air ambulance for Sussex

A charity has become the first air ambulance in the country to launch a 24- hour helicopter emergency service.

The Sussex, Kent and Surrey AirAmbulance is nowcarrying out night flights for the first times following an official launch this week.

It comes after three years of research and preparatory work by the service, which provides life-saving medical treatment and transport for critically ill and injured people across the county.

Up until recently, and unlike the rest of Europe, the service could only fly by daylight and so traditionally operated between 7am and 7pm.

Its two helicopters and teams are based in Marsden in Kent and Redhill in Surrey and previously only used emergency response cars after dark.

The teams attend about 1,500 incidents and treat approximately 1,000 patients each year.

There has, however, long been a clear indication of patient need by night, with around half of the cases seen happening between 11pm and 5am.

The charity undertook its own prospective and retrospective audit of patient cases which identified there were between 400 and 500 patients per year in the 3,500 square miles covering the three counties who would benefit from a night service.

Following a change in Civil Aviation Authority regulations in 2012, the charity replaced one of its older MD902 helicopters with a night-capable MD902 based at Redhill.

Because of the region’s size, complexities, and the presence of two major and many other minor airports, the decision was made to fly with two pilots rather than a traditional single pilot operation, to ensure the safest and most reliable service for patients and crew alike.

Trust chairman Anthony Monteuuis said: “This is a hugely expensive step and we have taken the greatest care to devise a service that is as robust and as safe as possible for everyone flying in the helicopter whether it’s the patients or crew.

“The people of Kent, Surrey and Sussex are better served from this moment forward than they have in the past.”

Chief executive Adrian Bell said: “Our focus is on getting our highly-skilled teams with their time-critical interventions, to the patient as quickly and safely as possible

“None of what we do would be possible without the support of the public.

There are many patients alive and well today, living with their families and amongst their friends who would not be there without the public’s generous support”

 

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