East Anglian Air Ambulance launches 24 hour flights
It has delivered life-saving care to people in West Norfolk for two decades, but never around the clock, until now.
Today is a landmark day for the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) as it begins 24 hour flight operations across the region for the first time.
And supporters are being encouraged to help keep its helicopters in the air by taking part in a fundraising trek along the borough's coastline this autumn.
The service expansion comes four years after the charity first set out its aim to establish a 24/7 flight operation.
Until now, there has been no helicopter emergency medical service in the region between 1.30am and 7am each day.
And bosses estimate that will mean its crews can respond to around 600 more incidents a year than it does at present.
EAAA chief executive Matthew Jones said: “This is a huge moment for East Anglia and something that we, as a charity, have been working passionately towards for several years, to provide critical care to someone in a life-threatening or life-changing situation no matter what the time of day or night.
“To be about to fly 24 hours a day for the very first time, by providing two 12-hour helicopter shifts, is the last piece of the Mission 24/7 puzzle.
“However, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve any of this if it wasn’t for the incredible generosity of people throughout the region who have helped EAAA grow into the amazing lifeline that it is now.”
He added: “In just over 20 years East Anglian Air Ambulance has gone from operating just one day a week to becoming a really sophisticated 24/7 helicopter operation.
“That just would not have been possible without the people of East Anglia who have gone above and beyond in supporting this charity and keeping our crews flying, so that they can be there for someone to make what could be their last day into simply their worst day.
“We look forward to being able to fly to more patients in the early hours of the morning, where our teams have previously only been available by rapid response vehicle.”
To mark the milestone, and help raise the funds needed to keep the service flying, supporters are being invited to take part in three 24 mile or 24 kilometre treks treks during August and September.
The third of those events, on Sunday, September 12, will be along a section of the Norfolk Coastal Path, starting from Heacham or Thornham, depending on the distance participants choose to cover, and the finishing point at Holkham Hall.
People interested in taking part should visit www.trek-24.co.uk for more details.