Julian captures art of air ambulance

GALLERY For 18 months he has followed the working lives of the flying medics with the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

Mark Lord

FOR 18 months he has followed the working lives of the flying medics with the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

And now the images captured by Suffolk photographer Julian Claxton, giving a powerful insight into their work, will form a special exhibition.

The photo-documentary Life with the Air Ambulance follows the helicopter crew on various jobs across Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

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Mr Claxton, from Oulton Broad, said some of the hardest call-outs he attended with the team were to road accidents - although thankfully none of the people involved had been seriously injured.

He added: “Some of the things we went to were the normal run-of-the-mill things like road accidents, but even those, when you see up close how bad things could have been for people, were quite scary.

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“You do wonder when you see cars have been totally written off how a person got out alive.”

Mr Claxton thought of the idea of creating a photo-documentary after seeing numerous documentaries on television featuring air ambulance paramedics.

He said: “I wanted to create a set of images which would give people an insight into the lives of the paramedics and doctors who regularly operate with the air ambulance.

“The crew were happy to have me there and were very welcoming. They let me be at the heart of everything, from taking off at the helipad to being on scene at accidents.

“I worked several shifts with them over the 18-month period and I witnessed a huge variety of incidents and was able to watch the paramedics at work for nine to 10 hours at a time.”

Mr Claxton said the strangest call-outs included the rescue of a man who had managed to drop 45ft out of a loft hatch and another man who had fallen off his roof putting up Christmas decorations.

He said: “When you look back on things like that you think to yourself just how lucky these people were not to have been seriously injured. At the time it is really serious and all you are thinking is if the person has been badly injured and if they will be okay.”

Mr Claxton will be exhibiting the work at The Forum in Norwich, between June 30 and July 5.

He said the exhibition will not feature gory images from the accident scenes, adding: “I wanted to focus on the crew, their reactions and expressions in what they were doing, everything from laughing and joking over a cup of tea to the seriousness etched on their faces when working on a call-out.

“They face a phenomenal task sometimes in what they have to do. I have great admiration for them.”

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