Sussex Air Ambulance celebrates 999 days

Sussex Air Ambulance is 999 days old today and is holding a celebration for crew and patients at it's base in Dunsfold. This is the story of the service as detailed on it's website

Sussex was one of only a few counties in the UK that did not have its own dedicated Helicopter Emergency Medical Service - HEMS, but this all changed in June 2007!

The Sussex Air Ambulance Appeal was launched in June 2005 by local actress Penelope Keith CBE. The appeal target was set at a quarter of a million pounds. The emergency helicopter was launched by a host of celebrities including Penelope Keith and Bernard Cribbins on June 8th 2007.

Responding swiftly to 999 calls, air ambulances are able to deliver a medical crew to the scene of an accident or medical emergency and to transport patients to the nearest major hospital or specialist unit, in a fraction of the time taken by a land ambulance. Sussex has a complete HEMS Service (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service), and employ's the highest possible clinical standards in pre hospital care.

There are currently 15 independent air ambulance operators, all of which are registered charities and funded entirely by charitable donations, receiving no Government or National Lottery funding.

The new HEMS service, is based at Dunsfold Park, flying fast, direct and unhindered at over 150 miles per hour, the entire county can be reached in minutes.

However the challenge now, is to meet the yearly running costs of approximately £1.7 million to provide Sussex and neighboring Surrey with an emergency helicopter service, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Two patients who were rescued by the life-saving helicopter will be at the celebration

Father-of-one Neil Akers, 35, from Horsham, West Sussex, survived a motorbike accident in Hove last April.

Listen to his interview

He will be joined by medical secretary Sian Kearney, from Billingshurst, West Sussex, who is lucky to be alive after a car accident in Caterham, Surrey.

Receiving no funding from the National Lottery the charity relies almost entirely upon the generosity of the public to support the Sussex Air Ambulance.