Air ambulances to keep flying

EMERGENCY service bosses have revealed they will now be able to fly two rescue helicopters during the summer in a bid to offer greater support over the busy period.

EMERGENCY service bosses have revealed they will now be able to fly two rescue helicopters during the summer in a bid to offer greater support over the busy period.

The East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) has confirmed it has secured enough funding to run both its new Bolkow 117 helicopter and the previous air ambulance, a Bolkow 105, during the next few months.

Simon Gray, executive director of the EAAA, said the charity's ability to fly two helicopters during the summer will make a major contribution to improving the accident and emergency support service provided across Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

He said: “In 2005 the air ambulance flew over 21% more missions during the summer than the winter - an increase which was at least partly attributable to the increased population in the region during those months and the fact that people tend to be out and about exploring some of the more remote areas of countryside and coastline in East Anglia.

“Running a second aircraft during the busy summer months has always been our goal and the fact we're now able to do this is down to the continued commitment and generosity of all those individuals and organisations across the region who raise money for us.

“Their generosity and dedication helps us all. Running both helicopters costs the charity around £170,000 per month and we receive no funding from government or the National Lottery.

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“The struggle to raise funds must continue to ensure we can provide this additional life-saving service right through the summer.”

The extra service will run from Friday July 7 and until Monday September 11 and will operate four days a week on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays - traditionally the busiest days for the air ambulance.

The new aircraft will be on stand-by at RAF Honington during the day while the second aircraft will be based at Norwich Airport.

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