Evening News appeal to raise money for East Anglian Air Ambulance

Today the Evening News is calling on readers to help the air ambulance save more lives by raising money for vital new equipment.

The East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) wants to further improve the life-saving service it provides over the next two years, with two new helicopters on order, a plan to start flying at night and making sure it has the very latest emergency medical equipment available for crews.

The Evening News wants to help the charity raise funds for two baby ventilators, which will cost approximately �10,000 for both.

Air ambulance chief executive Tim Page said: 'Put simply, these plans will enable us to save more lives. The delivery of emergency medicine in a pre-hospital environment is extremely difficult and therefore our capability depends on two things - brilliantly skilled clinicians and providing them with the best possible kit available to support them in administering to the patients.'

The charity's lead doctors have specifically asked for the new equipment, as they strive to continually improve what the crews can do to help the most seriously ill and injured patients before they can be safely taken to hospital.

A ventilator mechanically moves breathable air into and out of the lungs for patients who are physically unable to breathe, or are breathing insufficiently. There are very few ventilators available which are suitable for use with babies and small children.

Dr Jeremy Mauger, senior doctor for the EAAA, said: 'We are currently managing with adult ventilators set at the lowest settings which is far from ideal and can be inaccurate. In most cases we are having to hand ventilate the babies during transfer which as you can imagine is difficult, inefficient and time consuming.

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'The Babypac has been specially designed to deliver ventilation to small, fragile lungs and includes many advanced features, all of which are important when treating very young patients.'

The charity is also hoping to extend its operation into the hours of darkness, so it can help to save more lives, particularly in the winter.

At the moment the charity can only operate during daylight, but later this summer it is due to take delivery of a new helicopter, which will be equipped for night-time flying.

But the plan to fly at night, which is subject to Civil Aviation Authority approval, along with other improvements and rising prices, means the charity expects its running costs to rise from its existing �4.5m per year to �6m by January 2014.

The charity has no government funding or national lottery funding, and is funded entirely by public donation.

At the moment it works in close partnership with the its sister charity, the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance, to stagger pilot shift times in the summer so together they can provide cover across the six counties from dawn to dusk.

But the hopes are that in the future the EAAA will be able to fly from 6am through to around midnight or 1am in the morning.

The charity's two existing aircraft, based at Cambridge Airport and Norwich International Airport, are each manned by an experienced doctor, either an anaesthetics or an emergency medicine specialist, and a critical care paramedic.

Both possess enhanced clinical skills and an important part of the charity's work is bringing this added expertise to a casualty as quickly as possible – with the helicopters able to reach anywhere in East Anglia within 20 minutes.

Now the charity is asking for readers to dig deep and help it to continue to save the lives of more people.

Mr Page said: 'We need the help and support of those people across the region who we ultimately need to provide the service for. Thankfully we are not helping everybody every day. But some day, those who support us may need us.

'We are very much a charity belonging to the people of East Anglia.'