East Anglia: Region’s air ambulance on the verge of being the first service to fly at night

Air Ambulance could soon be flying at night

Air Ambulance could soon be flying at night - Credit: Archant

A CHARITY hopes to be saving more lives by the summer as it finalises plans to become the first night-flying air ambulance in the country.

The East Anglian Air Ambulance has recruited extra staff and has invested in new night vision technology and training to enable one of its helicopters to carry out missions in the dark.

However, the charity that relies entirely on donations and fundraising by its supporters is still waiting for the approval of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) before it can start night flights.

Officials hope the purchase and installation of a £140,000 light will meet the approval of the aviation regulator and will allow the charity to become the first air ambulance in Britain to offer night-time Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS).

Night flying will push the operating costs of the East Anglian Air Ambulance up from £4.2million to £6m a year.

Once approval is granted, the charity has the option of working 24/7, but will aim to operate up to midnight and the helicopter, based in Cambridge, would serve six counties in the East of England.

Tim Page, chief executive, said: “We are working in partnership with Bond Air Services and the CAA to ensure that when our night HEMS service is provided that it meets their requirements and work in a safe and an appropriate manner.

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“There are a series of requirements that have to be met and because it is the first time, there is a degree of uncertainty over what the charity and helicopter provider have to do and it is a learning process.

“I hope it will be before the beginning of June.” He added that he was confident the charity could cope with the increased costs, based on 12 years of sound financial management and the huge support of fundraisers.