Time flies! East Anglian Air Ambulance celebrates 20 years of rescues

Fundraising drive launched by regional lifesaver

Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 10:44 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 10:48 am
The East Anglian Air Ambulance team

Doesn’t time fly? Twenty years ago a new charity was formed to help save lives across East Anglia – the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA).

Operating initially just one day a week on a Friday with one paramedic, this was the start of an important lifeline for many local people.

By 2007, EAAA had successfully extended its service to cover Bedfordshire as well, with the Anglia Two helicopter based at Cambridge Airport.

Dramatic helicopter rescue in Lavenham

Today, the charity treats more than 1,700 patients a year and is operational 24/7 by rapid response vehicle from both of its bases, getting a highly-skilled emergency medicine doctor and a critical care paramedic to the patient as quickly as possible.

This week – which is also Air Ambulance Week – EAAA thanked the community support that keeps it airborne and revealed that over the last 20 years it has flown almost 30,000 missions and helped 20,000 patients.

The charity needs to raise £13 million a year to develop and deliver its service.

EAAA has released a short film that explores how the service has grown and showcases some of the people it has helped. To watch the film click here.

Richard Woolmer pictured with Amy in the helicopter

CEO Patrick Peal said: “It’s not only road traffic collisions and accidental injuries that we attend, as in our early days. Now, our crews also attend life-threatening medical emergencies, many of which are cardiac related.

“This is where the skill of our doctor and critical care paramedic crews, the equipment we carry and the speed of the helicopter is really making a big difference to hundreds of lives each year.

“EAAA really is a unique lifeline for the region and we are so thankful for all the support we have received over the last 20 years. We really couldn’t be here without the community that funds our lifesaving work.”

Next year, the charity plans to extend its helicopter service to 24/7 coverage.

EAAA is inviting supporters to join in the Together We Run fundraising drive from September 14-20 to help keep EAAA’s yellow helicopters operational.

It is launching a collective 2,000-mile run or walk to tie in with the anniversary milestone.

Pledge your miles and take part whenever and wherever you like. Sign up by midnight on Sunday, September 13, to join one of the virtual teams and for your miles to count towards the final total.

EXPERT DIAGNOSIS SAVED MENINGITIS SUFFERER RICHARD

Richard Woolmer from Colmworth benefited from East Anglian Air Ambulance’s care when he collapsed at home two years ago.

The now 24-year-old had suddenly started to feel unwell, and suspected he was coming down with the flu.

Later that day, his dad found him in bed, completely unresponsive. First responders and an ambulance were dispatched, but despite their initial treatments to lower Richard’s temperature, his condition worsened and he became uncooperative.

The East Anglian Air Ambulance was sent to provide extra support. On examination, the EAAA team detected Richard was suffering from a sort of brain injury.

They gave him antibiotics and sedated him in order to get him safely into the nearest hospital.

He was admitted to intensive care and diagnosed with meningitis – a potentially life-threatening condition.

Fortunately, Richard pulled through. He remains incredibly grateful to everyone involved in his care, especially the EAAA team whose early intervention of antibiotics and safe transfer to hospital gave him a good chance of survival.