Lighting your darkest hour: We need your help to become a 24/7 service across East Anglia
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 helicopter emergency medical service that is operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week - 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 attend up to 600 additional missions and be there for over 400 more patients who need our help every year.
Together we save lives
The East of England Ambulance Service (who task us) has provided East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) with data which shows clear evidence that East Anglia would benefit from a 24/7 helicopter emergency medical service.
This data was collected between June 2016 and June 2017 and showcased numerous incidents where a critical care need wasn’t met. i.e. an enhanced care team transported by an air ambulance or rapid response vehicle (RRV) was not available when needed. The majority of these incidents, that were in the area EAAA serve, occurred between 7pm and 7am and took place in the North and East of Norfolk.
Currently, we operate a 7am to 7pm shift from our Norwich base and a 7am - midnight shift at our Cambridge base, leaving a 7 hour gap where no helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) is available.
We estimate that we could be disptached to up to 600 more patients each year by becoming a full 24/7 HEMS service across East Anglia.
We required evidence that becoming a 24/7 service was beneficial to the community we serve, and we were able to gather this evidence in 2016/17.
We are a charity that is only 20 years old and becoming a 24/7 service is a big undertaking which requires more crew and more funds; specifically, an additional £1m a year on top of the £12m we already need to raise.
Our facilities in Norwich also aren’t suitable to become a full 24/7 service on the helicopter and we need a new extended Norwich base to achieve it.
We are already working towards becoming a 24/7 service. In a phased approach, we plan to become 24/7 in Norwich on the Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV) with adhoc night shifts with a doctor and critical care paramedic from April 2019 and increase this to seven days a week from September.
We will then aim for the Norwich helicopter (Anglia One) to increase its single 12-hour shift from 7am to 7pm to full 24-hour cover over two 12 hour shifts during 2020.
We are still reviewing options of coverage from our Cambridge base. Once the Norwich helicopter provides full 24/7 coverage, we will consider the following:
- The Cambridge helicopter (Anglia Two) will reduce its 17-hour shift down to a 12-hour shift. We will then extend the Cambridge RRV coverage throughout the night.
- The Cambridge helicopter (Anglia Two) will continue with its 17-hour shift of 7am to 12am. We will then extend the Cambridge RRV throughout the night.
- The Cambridge base will also operate 24/7 but by helicopter and rapid response vehicle (RRV).
The decision and timings are dependent on several factors:
- Revenues – specifically year on year income growth and our confidence in sustaining that.
- Experience of doing 24/7 at Norwich by car, particularly doctor recruitment.
- What our neighbours in the south of the region do with respect to extending their cover, particularly Essex and Hertfordshire Air Ambulance (EHAAT).
East Anglian Air Ambulance aims to become a full helicopter emergency 24/7 service by the end of 2020, but we need to build a new base to achieve our vision in a way that supports the crews’ wellbeing. Therefore, there may still be some changes in the proposed timeline due to the complexities of building a new base and supporting our staff.
We estimate it will cost an extra £1m a year on top of our current operating costs to become a HEMS 24/7 service. This estimate is currently based on the Norwich helicopter increasing to 24/7 coverage, and Cambridge helicopter reducting its 17-hour shift down to a 12-hour shift.
Our current base isn’t fit for a long term 24/7 helicopter operation. There is not enough room for welfare facilities for the crew during night shifts and a new base will be able to accommodate a two-shift crew to cover 24 hours and offer them a safe working environment.
Extra pilots, CCPs and doctors will be required to become fully operational 24/7 by air and car. With more crew to accommodate, we need to improve and extend our facilities for staff welfare purposes and to ensure sustainability of the service. A new base will also help us achieve other charity strategic goals such as minimising the impact of trauma in the community through the development of a first aid training centre.
We operate a 17-hour shift from our Cambridge base, but it is the Northern part of the region which is the most vulnerable. The road network in the southern part of the region is better, so an RRV can cover more ground at night, whereas the rural roads in Norfolk mean that there is more need for a helicopter response.
We must also be aware that MAGPAS currently operate a 24 hour shift on their RRV and EHAAT are working towards becoming a full 24/7 HEMS service, both of which will provide more cover in the southern part of the region.
A base in Norwich will provide fast response times to the areas where a need is currently not being met.
Don't forget - our helicopters can reach anywhere within the region in 25 minutes.
With prudent investment over the past few years and unexpected legacies from our generous supporters, we already have the required funds to build a new base.
We do however need to raise an additional £1m each year on top of the £12m we already need to raise to become a 24/7 service.
The base build will commence in winter 2019 with an estimated completion date at the end of 2020.
We are committed to becoming a 24/7 helicopter life-saving service across East Anglia from 2020. This will benefit everyone in the region we serve by allowing us to be dispatched to an additional 600 missions per year. Currently there is no 24-hour helicopter coverage in the region (although neighbouring air ambulances are also working towards it) and ultimately by increasing our hours, Bedfordshire will have access to a life-saving service that isn’t yet otherwise available.
Whatever time of day or night we fly, our helicopters can reach anywhere in the region within 25 minutes.
Other ways to support Mission 24/7:
It's not just donations we rely on; there are many ways to support our campaign to become a 24/7 service, from taking part in our events to playing our lottery to volunteering your time.
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Volunteer with us
We depend on our dedicated team of volunteers. Every minute of time they give goes towards keeping our life-saving service in the airFind out more