30 June 2021
Tonight (Wednesday 30 June) is a landmark moment for East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) and the provision of emergency critical care in the region, as we start flying 24/7 for the very first time.
The gap between 1:30 am and 7am where there has been no helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) coverage in the region will now be closed, as EAAA becomes the first air ambulance in the East of England to fly 24 hours a day.
Becoming a 24/7 service for East Anglia has been a long-term ambition of ours, with the initial research for expanding to a 24/7 operation taking place four years ago. Since then, EAAA has taken gradual steps towards achieving this ambition, which importantly included raising an extra million pounds a year to fund the additional operating hours, increasing our car cover to 24/7, building a new operational base and now 24/7 flying.
EAAA has two critical care teams, Anglia One and Anglia Two, which operate from Norwich and Cambridge respectively to take the A and E department to the patient, by air or by car, wherever they may be in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk or Norfolk. Our highly skilled doctor and critical care paramedics have been operating 24/7 by rapid response vehicle since March 2020 and now that 24/7 service will be bolstered by a 24/7 helicopter operation, too, for the very first time.
By becoming a 24/7 service by air and by car, we estimate around 600 more taskings a year, helping hundreds more patients in their hour of need. Last year, our crews were tasked more than 500 times at night by RRV alone, demonstrating the demand that exists overnight.
“This is a huge moment for East Anglia and something that we, as a charity, have been working passionately towards for several years; to provide critical care to someone in a life-threatening or life-changing situation no matter what the time of day or night. ”
CEO of East Anglian Air Ambulance
Matthew Jones, the recently appointed CEO of EAAA, said: “To be about to fly 24 hours a day for the very first time, by providing two 12-hour helicopter shifts, is the last piece of the Mission 24/7 puzzle. However, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve any of this if it wasn’t for the incredible generosity of people throughout the region who have helped EAAA grow into the amazing lifeline that it is now.
“In just over 20 years East Anglian Air Ambulance has gone from operating just one day a week to becoming a really sophisticated 24/7 helicopter operation. That just would not have been possible without the people of East Anglia who have gone above and beyond in supporting this charity and keeping our crews flying, so that they can be there for someone to make what could be their last day into simply their worst day. We look forward to being able to fly to more patients in the early hours of the morning, where our teams have previously only been available by rapid response vehicle.”
Challenges of flying 24/7
- There are stricter procedures for leaving and departing the airport to comply with noise reduction requirements
- To help plan night missions better, the pilots will be using new software that details the phases of the moon and times of sunset/sunrise, which all affect visibility
- The control system for the runway lights at Norwich airport has been upgraded so that our pilots can switch the runway lights on from the air using the aircraft VHF radio. This cost nearly £60,000 and was paid for by the HELP Appeal to increase the safety of the operation, reduce light pollution and save energy
- More flying on NVIS night vision goggles where low level obstacles like power and telephone lines are harder or even impossible to see
- Flying during the “small hours” when people’s body clocks are telling them to sleep will be more challenging and so the crews must all keep an eye on each other to make sure they are alert at all times.
Support Trek 24
To further support our 24/7 operation, three 24-mile or 24-kilometre fundraising treks will be taking place around the region this summer.
Saturday 14 August - Suffolk Coast and Country Trek
Highlights: Beaches, Bird Spotting, and Historical ruins
Saturday 4 September - The Chilterns Challenge
Highlights: Hills, Views, Nature Reserves and Country Villages
Sunday 12 September - Norfolk Coast Path
Highlights: Dramatic landscapes, Sandy Beaches, Wild Rivers & Marshes
To help fund out 24/7 service and find out more, please click the button below. Thank you.Sign up today
Meet Chris Marshall
In May last year father of two, Chris was involved in a life-threatening collision with a car near Cromer Golf Club, while he was out training for a 100-mile cycle challenge. When Chris’s wife was first notified about the accident, she was told Chris wasn’t likely to survive.
The accident happened around 11:30am on 12 May 2020. A team from EAAA was tasked at 11:39am to provide critical care at the scene, landing on the Cromer Golf Club car park. The EAAA team worked for over an hour to deliver the enhanced pre-hospital care interventions required to give Chris a fighting chance.
Chris had a suspected head injury and had broken several bones in his body. His injuries were classed as life-threatening and without the enhanced interventions of the air ambulance team, he would not have made it to hospital.
By flying 24/7 from 30 June, EAAA will now be able to provide the same level of service by helicopter or by car 24 hours a day to patients in need like Chris Marshall, who was saved by the charity last year.Read Chris's Story