Extended hours success for life-saving service

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A unique collaboration between the East of England’s two Air Ambulance Charities, East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) and Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust (EHAAT) to provide an extended service during the longer summer days has been shown to be successful with an additional 75 missions flown by the charities’ helicopters during the period.

Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) pilots are scheduled to work a maximum of 10 hours on a shift so, during the summer, when days are at their longest, key hours of daylight, for instance during the morning and evening rush hours, can be left with no cover.

By linking up and staggering their Crew start times, both Charities, each of which operate two helicopters, were able to provide a HEMS service from 7am to 9pm or sunset, whichever occurred first, right across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire between April and September. Missions they were able to support during the extended hours service included road traffic collisions in the morning and evening rush hours as well as cardiac arrests and falls from height.

The EAAA has two aircraft, based at Norwich and Cambridge Airports serving Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire and flies highly trained Doctor/Paramedic crews.

EHAAT operates two aircraft, based at Earls Colne and North Weald Airfields and also flies Doctor/Paramedic Crews. Both Charities are tasked to the scene of major trauma and medical emergencies across the region by the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST).

Tim Page, Chief Executive of the EAAA, said: “This is a great example of how charities can work collaboratively, in this case with our partner, the East of England NHS Ambulance Trust, to provide enhanced pre-hospital care across our region. We’re delighted that the scheme was a success and are also keen to explore similar initiatives that raise standards of patient care. We’re grateful to everyone in the region who helps to support both charities. We couldn’t do it without you.”

Commenting on the partnership, Cliff Gale, EHAAT Operations Director, said: “It took a lot of planning to implement the extended service but the results speak for themselves. By getting to incidents quickly and starting life-saving treatment at the scene our Crews can make a real difference at major incidents and emergencies. By working together we were able to make a bigger contribution to patient care and outcome over a longer period. We will look to repeating this exercise this year and also explore other partnership working initiatives.”

Tim Daniels, East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust Air Operations Manager, said: “EEAST is delighted with the progressive working partnership with the EAAA and EHAAT and would like to praise both organisations for the hard work that made the extended flying hours last year such a success. We are very keen to continue this work to ensure we deliver consistent and appropriate specialist care 24/7 across the East of England.”