East Anglian Air Ambulance appeals for help to protect crew from Covid-19

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Emergency appeal launched to help protect crew

East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA), which covers Bedfordshire, is still flying and saving lives during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the cost of keeping its crews safe has been significant.

The charity has had to quickly adapt its operating procedures and source large amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to keep its two critical care teams safe and able to support the region’s emergency services.

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The estimated cost of acquiring the additional PPE now required over a six-month period is over £100,000.

Critical Care Paramedic Nigel Strange and Doctor Rishi Rallan demonstrate the PPE they now need to wear to provide emergency pre-hospital care. (C) East Anglian Air AmbulanceCritical Care Paramedic Nigel Strange and Doctor Rishi Rallan demonstrate the PPE they now need to wear to provide emergency pre-hospital care. (C) East Anglian Air Ambulance
Critical Care Paramedic Nigel Strange and Doctor Rishi Rallan demonstrate the PPE they now need to wear to provide emergency pre-hospital care. (C) East Anglian Air Ambulance | other

The charity has launched an emergency appeal yesterday (Tuesday, April 7) for donations to help fund the PPE, which is protecting its crews and keeping the air ambulance teams safe.

More than £25,000 of unbudgeted funds has already been spent on items such as respirators, high-protection masks, visors, suits, gowns and goggles to protect the doctors and critical care paramedics who are working in the pre-hospital environment.

Richard Hindson, Head of Operations at East Anglian Air Ambulance, said: “At a time like this we can’t take any chances with the safety of our crews, but we also need to be able to provide the same level of care for our patients.

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"The equipment we now need to operate safely is a huge unforeseen cost that simply hasn’t been budgeted for, but we can’t send our crews out without it.

Critical care Paramedic Sam Sweeney. (C) East Anglian Air AmbulanceCritical care Paramedic Sam Sweeney. (C) East Anglian Air Ambulance
Critical care Paramedic Sam Sweeney. (C) East Anglian Air Ambulance | other

“We understand people are struggling at home too and may not feel as secure about their income, but we need support now more than ever, from those who feel able to give it, to protect our crews and keep our service operating safely. Please donate what you can to help.”

The charity has also had to source different filters for its life-saving equipment to prevent contamination, and large amounts of medical cleaning wipes which are proven to kill the virus, so that they can deep-clean equipment between missions.

At an unprecedented time, when charity fundraising events and activities have had to be postponed, and people are feeling uncertain of their own circumstances, the charity has had to draw on its reserves to adapt to the pandemic and make sure its crews are protected and able to keep flying.

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Although a lot of people are staying home due to the lockdown, there are still road traffic collisions, falls, accidental injuries and medical emergencies such as cardiac arrests, which need the community-funded helicopter emergency medical service to quickly provide critical care by taking the A and E department to the patient.

In March 2020, the EAAA life-saving teams attended 178 missions and treated 111 patients - 98 of these missions were attended by helicopter and 80 by rapid response vehicle.

Due to the nature of the procedures the medical teams are often required to perform, such as CPR or intubating a patient to take over their breathing, without the right PPE they are at a very high risk of great exposure to the virus.

Richard Hindson added: "The way in which we operate has had to change so much, incredibly quickly, but our crews have been amazing and are still out there every day, not knowing what they might come into contact with once they get to scene.

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"We’ve had to adapt all of our procedures to protect against this virus, right down to introducing new criteria for which patients we can transfer by air to hospital, but we’re proud to still be able to be there for the patients who need us and to support the other emergency services.

"With community support now, we can make sure we’re still there for our patients next month and next year, too.“

Support the EAAA PPE Appeal by:

- Phone: 03450 669 999 today and donate by debit or credit card (08.30am-5.00pm)

- Text: PPE 5 to 70085 to donate £5

- Visit www.eaaa.org.uk/PPE and donate online