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24 May 2013, 11:09 | Updated: 24 May 2013, 11:19
The East Anglian Air Ambulance has been given the green light to begin flying emergency missions at night.
It means the charity, which has one helicopter based at Cambridge Airport, has become the UK's first night air ambulance.
The East Anglian Air Ambulance flies missions in Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Norfolk, Suffolk and Bedfordshire.
The charity anticipates it will now be able to reach an extra 300 patients a year, on top of the 1,000 it already attends to.
Crews will use Night Vision Imaging Systems (NVIS) to see where they are going.
Chief Executive of the East Anglian Air Ambulance, Tim Page, said: “We are all extremely proud to be able to say that EAAA is the first dedicated air ambulance in the country to be granted permission to fly at night but, above all, this is great news for the people of East Anglia as there is evidence that this development in operations will mean that more lives will be saved across the region.
It has been a concern of the Charity for a long time that patients who become ill or injured during daylight hours have been able to benefit from a service which has not been available to those who are involved in incidents and accidents in the dark.
Many people have worked hard to resolve this problem and we are all extremely pleased that, no matter when someone needs our skilled crew to help them, our EAAA air ambulance, will be available."
Figures from the charity show fundraising of around £6 million a year is needed to keep the two helicopters they operate available for missions.