East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA), a charity based in the UK, has launched an ‘ambitious’ plan to become a 24/7 helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) provider by 2020.
The EAAA attends serious road traffic collisions, cardiac arrests, traumatic injuries and other medical emergencies, and notes that ‘these do not cease when their crew go offline’. Though EAAA currently operates 365 days a year, it does not operate 24 hours a day – meaning that between midnight and 07:00 hrs, there is no HEMs provision in the area. In order to succeed in becoming a 24/7/365 operator, the charity needs to raise an additional £1 million a year funding.
The EAAA worked with the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) to gather evidence to prove the need for 24/7 services. The EEAST tasked it to review incidents over the course of a year where critical care was required but unavailable, as well assessing the need first-hand by trialling an overnight service via rapid response vehicle (RRV) four days a week from the Norwich base. The results of the overnight trials, which saw the service attend 220 missions in the first 12 months, confirmed that there is a need for region-wide overnight critical care, particularly in rural Norfolk. The EAAA charity stressed that it ‘could do so much more with the helicopter’.
The charity recalls the case of Steve Jones – an accident in which Jones, having had to quickly manoeuvre a car, was flung off his motorbike while riding, landing him unconscious in a ditch filled with water after being catapulted head-first through a brick wall. Thanks to the EAAA, Jones was saved, but had the incident occurred between midnight and 07:00 hrs, ‘it is unlikely that he would have survived’, a statement noted.
Matthew Jones, Director of Operations at EAAA, said: “Becoming a 24/7 service by air will provide the people of East Anglia with a service that has not previously been available. By operating 24/7 we believe that we will treat approximately 600 more patients every year. Patient care is at the heart of everything we do at EAAA, so if we can be there for 600 more people each year and further reduce the impact of trauma and medical emergencies in the community, then this is a great step forward for us. We currently need to raise £12 million a year to operate our service, and it will cost an additional £1 million a year to fund a full 24/7 operation.”
The charity add that it is already extremely grateful to the community for the support it has received, and should anyone wish to learn more about the campaign or donate, they should visit: www.mission247.co.uk.