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At a briefing at Redhill Aerodrome on Wednesday the Trust that runs the Kent, Sussex and Surrey Air Ambulance revealed it had become the first to offer a 24 hour service, following changes to CAA regulations.
Statement from Trust
Life-threatening accidents and medical emergencies don't just occur during the day, they can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time. The Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance is committed to ensuring that its life-saving service is available to as many people as possible, regardless of the time of day.
The charity covers an area of approximately 3,500 square miles and attends and treats over 1,000 patients a year between the hours of 7:00am and 7:00pm with two specialist medícal crews operating from two separate helicopters. Extensive research has shown that up to 500 plus patients a year could benefit from a specialist medical crew operating from 7:00pm to 7:00am. Until recently Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulations prevented Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) aircraft in the UK from pperating by night in the way they operate by day, in particular with respect to the nature of the ad-hoc landing sites the helicopters have to fly into so that the crews can attend and treat patients.
ln 2012 the CAA regulations were changed to allow suitably-equipped HEMS aircraft to be able to make ad hoc landings at night to respond to emergency medical calls. The number of patients. and the frequency of incidents identified in the research work have led the charity to plan initially for one helicopter and specialist crew to operate by night.
The service will initially be conducted over a two-year trial period to allow a gradual progression of capabilities and ongoing evaluation that will ensure a long term, safe, resilient and sustainable service for the people of Kent, Surrey and Sussex.