It costs £5m a year to run the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance - a cost entirely met by fundraising. But those who've benefited from the service say it's money well spent. The quicker a seriously injured patient gets to hospital, the better the chances of survival. David Wood reports.
A new helicopter will serve as a 24-hour air ambulance for Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
The newer version of the helicopter based in Redhill will ensure the aircraft is ready for night flying in the late summer.
To prepare for the 24-hour service, the charity's specialist paramedic crew have already started delivering a medical service using a response car throughout the night.
Adrian Bell, Chief Executive of the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance, said:
"We have replaced one of our helicopters with a new version capable of night operations. While we are waiting for the necessary regulatory processes to be completed we have started operating by car during the hours of darkness."
A former British grasstrack champion who survived a racing crash thanksto Kent Air Ambulance has had a tattoo of the helicopter done on his back in tribute to themedics who saved his life.
Nineteen year old Craig Drury suffered multiple injuries after he was catapulted from his 250cc machine in the last race of the day at Collier Street. He suffered a punctured lung, a lacerated liver, a torn spleen, broken ribs, three fractured vertebrae and a broken leg and collarbone.
Craig has since made a full recovery and has now had a tattoo of Kent AirAmbulance inked on his back by Life Family Tattoo in Sevenoaks where he lives.
He said: “I had it done because I wanted a permanent reminder that the pilot, doctor and paramedic saved my life, and to publicise the charity.
“I’ve already got six tattoos but this one runs from shoulder to shoulder and took three-and-a-half hours to do. It looks amazing.”
A new air ambulance dedicated to children - had its first test flight in Hampshire today. The charity-based service aims to fly babies and children to specialist hospitals all over the country - saving up to four thousand lives a year. Martin Dowse reports.
The Kent, Surrey and Sussex air ambulance will carry blood on board for the very first time. It will allow paramedics and doctors to carry out emergency blood transfusions. Tom Savvides talks to Dr Samy Sadek and Chief Executive Adrian Bell.
Runners are being urged to sign up for this year’s Brighton Marathon in aid of Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance to help fund the charity’s plans for night flying.
It costs £5million a year to keep both helicopters flying during daylight hours but this figure will rise to £6 million when a 24-hour service is launched next year.
The Air Ambulance currently has 23 charity places available for runners who can commit to raising a minimum of £500.
All Air Ambulance entrants will be given an opportunity to visit the helicopter base and meet the pilot, doctor and paramedic, subject to emergency call-outs
For more information visit the air ambulance's website.
The money is being donated by the Freemason's Grand Charity which is giving money to 22 air ambulances across the country.
Two pairs of football boots signed by the footballers John Terry and Frank Lampard will go up for auction in Sussex later this month in aid of the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance.
The Chelsea and England stars' footwear will be part of a charity night being held in Worthing at The Thomas Beecham Club on April 21st.
See the petition for yourself: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/29349
The RNLI has not had to pay VAT on fuel for its lifeboats since 1977, but Kent's air ambulance, which relies entirely on donations, does have to.