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December 11, 2010

New UK copter speeds up air medics' emergency response

By Kate Liptrot
Derby Evening Telegraph

DERBYSHIRE, England — The life-saving Derbyshire air ambulance charity has got a state-of-the-art new helicopter.

The service has upgraded its chopper to a model which can reach a cruising speed of around 200mph and has a cabin big enough for three patients.

The old model was in need of replacement because the four to five flights carried out by the service each day had started to wear it out.

Andy Williamson, chief executive of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance, said the biggest difference with the new helicopter was the larger cabin, which could comfortably accommodate two patients and three at a push.

This compared to space for one patient or two at a squeeze in the previous helicopter, which could only reach speeds of 180mph.

Mr Williamson said: "Most of the time we only transport one patient. It is only in the case of a major incident that we would carry more. But the extra space means there is more room to work on a patient.

"Most helicopters can last for 10 years but that's under normal use. We're going up in the air four or five times a day so our helicopters wear out quicker."

Like the previous helicopter, the new air ambulance is leased and expected to cost around £100,000 a month, which covers fuel and the pilots's salaries. The total varies from month to month depending on how busy the service is.

Mr Williamson said it was the efforts of fund-raisers that kept the ambulance flying.

"One of the reasons we have to put so much effort into fund-raising is to keep up-todate with technology," "Our service really is a cut above the rest. We offer extra training to our paramedics and doctors and we have state-of-the-art equipment."

The helicopter carries has all the latest life-saving technology, including defibrillator machines which give an electric shock to a patient's heart to restart it after a cardiac arrest.

The new model is an Augusta 109 Grande helicopter, which replaces the Augusta 109 Power air ambulance that has been used by the charity since 2008 when it took over the running of the service from The County Air Ambulance.

That charity moved its helicopter away from East Midlands Airport into Staffordshire because it said it was not receiving enough donations from Derbyshire. The charity which took over said it had so far received enough support to cover the £1.5m a year running costs.

Copyright 2010 Derby Evening Telegraph

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