Saturday, 05 September 2020 00:00

20 years together – East Anglian Air Ambulance

Written by  Kat Lawson-Phillips
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20 years together – East Anglian Air Ambulance

20 years ago, on 6 September 2000, a new charity was formed to help save lives across East Anglia: the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA). Operating initially just one day a week, on a Friday from Norwich Airport, with one paramedic, this was the start of an important lifeline for many local people.

Monday, the start of National Air Ambulance Week, EAAA can reveal that over the last 20 years it has flown almost 30,000 missions and helped almost 20,000 patients, all thanks to the generosity of local people.

At a time of so much uncertainty, the charity, which needs to raise £13 million a year to develop and deliver its service, and is aiming to start flying 24/7 for the first time next year, is deeply grateful for the public support which has enable it to pass this milestone.

To thank the community which keeps it flying and saving lives, EAAA has released a short film which explores some of the charity’s key achievements over the last 20 years, how the service has grown and showcases some of the people it has helped. To watch the film, go to www.eaaa.org.uk/20years 

CEO Patrick Peal said: “EAAA is a unique life-line for anyone in East Anglia; we are incredibly proud to be here today, having kept flying throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and to see such a high need for our crews over the last few months. We know we’re providing an essential service for the people of East Anglia and we’re so, so thankful for all the support we have received over the last 20 years. We really couldn’t be here without the community that funds our life-saving work. A huge heart-felt thank you from all of us to everyone who has supported us over the years.”

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EAAA has grown to operate two helicopters across the region carrying a highly-skilled emergency medicine Doctor and a Critical Care Paramedic, always taking the A and E department to the patient, no matter what the type of medical emergency. In 2012, after a lengthy and arduous development programme, EAAA became the first helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) in the country to start flying at night to unlit sites, which enabled the charity to reach more people in their worst moments.

Today, EAAA is 24/7 by rapid response vehicle from both of its bases and planning to extend its HEMS service to 24/7 coverage next year, to ensure the provision of the very best emergency care to those in need, whenever it is needed.

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EAAA does not receive regular government funding and is kept airborne thanks to the generosity of local people. For that, the charity would like to say ‘thank you’ to the community which has kept it flying for the last 20 years.

Join in Together We Run 2000 mile challenge 14th – 20th September.
To help keep EAAA’s yellow helicopters operational, next week EAAA is encouraging its supporters to raise funds for the service by helping to complete a collective 2000 mile run or walk, to tie in with the anniversary milestone.

Pledge your miles and take part whenever and wherever you like. Sign up by midnight on Sunday 13 to join one of the Together We Run virtual teams and for your miles to count towards the final total. For more information and to sign up, go to www.eaaa.org.uk/werun

Timeline of EAAA History

2000 –EAAA is registered with the charity commission and an appeal is launched to fund the service by jockey Frankie Dettori.

2001 – EAAA starts flying one day a week on a shared police helicopter and treats its first patient

2001- The AA fund the service to fly 7 days a week (and why the helicopter is yellow!)

2002 – The first voluntary doctors start flying on the aircraft

2006 - EAAA flies its 6,000th mission

2007 – An appeal is launched to extend the service to Bedfordshire. Four months later, this is achieved with a second helicopter based at Cambridge Airport, flying five days a week

2009 – A group of dedicated critical care paramedics are appointed to work solely for EAAA

2010 – Paid doctors are seconded from the NHS to crew the helicopters for the first time

2013 – EAAA is the first air ambulance in the country to fly to unknown and unlit sites in the hours of darkness

2015 - EAAA receive the UK’s first H145 helicopter, improving its operational capabilities and the Duke of Cambridge, William Wales, joins EAAA

2018 – EAAA starts delivering first aid and CPR training to workplaces and communities

2019 – EAAA starts operating 24/7 with a doctor and critical care paramedic on its rapid response vehicles from Norwich. The charity also flies its 25,000th mission

2020 – EAAA extends its Cambridge operational cover to 24/7 by rapid response vehicle and continues to fly throughout the Covid-19 lockdown.

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Photo credit - Stephen Sparks

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