25 March 2019
One of the key pieces of equipment that enables our crews to fly into sites in darkness are our Night Vision Goggles Systems (NVIS) that our pilots wear on their helmets when flying at night. These systems literally allow our pilots to see in the dark. They are more often associated with military operations, but we put the same technology to use so that we know where fences, gates, telephone poles and lines, trees, aerials, etc are. This enables us to get our medical teams as close to the patient as we can.
In very simple terms, NVIS works by gathering existing light (starlight or moonlight) through the front lens. This light is then converted to an electrical signal which can then be amplified and projected onto a screen where it is converted back to visible light which the pilot then sees through the eyepiece that he/she is wearing. Of course, it’s not just about the technology, our pilots have to train to use the NVIS equipment and maintain training to ensure it is used safely. We also have small hand-held NVIS monoculars which our medical crew have in the rear of the aircraft so that they can help with the identification of obstacles at night.
NVIS technology is constantly improving and we work with Babcock (our aviation partners) to understand this and upgrade our systems when we can. This equipment will be even more critical as we move to 24/7 operations.
We've attended 1156 NVIS missions which will increase when we go 24/7.
Help us to become a 24/7 service
The time of day or night should not determine what level of emergency critical care you receive in a life-threatening situation. Our vision is to become a life-saving service that is operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week by 2020 - but we need your help to achieve it.
To operate a 24/7 service across East Anglia we need to raise an additional £1 million each year, on top of the £12 million we already need to raise. With your support, we estimate that we could treat up to 600 more patients who need our help every year.
Together we save lives