A new £6.5 million helicopter is set to provide a huge boost to vital emergency work carried out by rescue teams working for the Midlands Air Ambulance group.
Funded by generous donations from businesses and the public along with a government handout, the EC145 model will replace a craft which is leased by the group, therefore cutting costs.
The new helicopter will have improved facilities such as a larger space inside to enable patients to take a loved one with them to offer support on the flight to hospital.
Midlands Air Ambulance spokesperson Katie West said she and the team were delighted with confirmation of a new addition to the fleet and thanked everyone who helped raise £7 million over two years to pay for it.
“The money we received from the generosity of the public and £1 million pounds from banking fines has given us that final push and the new helicopter is now ordered. It will be Incredibly important for us to enhance our service to the public and to continue to save lives.”
The Midlands Air Ambulance Group receives no government or Lottery funding and relies on donations from businesses to fund its £7 million annual costs. The new helicopter is currently being built and will be introduced to frontline emergency rescue missions in 2018.
Air crews carry out an average of six missions a day from bases at RAF Cosford (Wolverhampton), Strensham Services (Worcestershire) and Tatenhill (Staffordshire). All are currently gearing up for winter, which Tatenhill Paramedic Ian Jones said, has its own challenges.
“We (the crews) get cold working out and about, looking after our patients, but equally our patients get cold and there is a link between clotting and surviving significant injury when someone is cold. We have to try and keep them (patients) warm. We have to make sure we get them to somewhere warm as quickly as possible,” said Ian.
“The second thing is the weather, an aircraft can only fly when it can see a certain distance. In winter the weather is worse and there are days where we simply can’t fly.
“And thirdly, it gets dark quick in the winter and legally at the moment we can’t fly somewhere that we’ve not been to before. If we have technology such as night vision goggles, we can then fly at night but that takes extra money and requires more training.”