THE AIR ambulance is benefiting from an early Christmas present - a new state-of-the-art helicopter.
The Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance’s recently unveiled Italian Agusta Grand has a cruise speed just short of 200mph - the fastest civilian helicopter available.
A rapid-start capability means it can be airborne in about 45 seconds, quicker than other services which can take up to five minutes to warm up and the same to shut down.
Chief executive Andy Williamson said: “What a fabulous Christmas present for the areas we serve. Our new helicopter will greatly improve reliability and reduce maintenance and downtime.
“The new aircraft will increase reliability and host an all new patient monitoring system and enhanced stretcher system. “This new generation stretcher structure is designed to reduce lifting and handling and improve patient comfort. The helicopter also has enough cabin space for two patients on stretchers and for treatment to continue to the whole body if necessary.
“The equipment on board is the very latest technology for critical care and the helicopter also boasts the lowest cabin vibration of any air ambulance helicopter, essential when transporting serious head, neck or spinal injuries. It is also fitted with full all weather capability instruments to enable the crew to fly in bad weather.”
The helicopter, unveiled at the charity’s East Midlands Airport base last Wednesday (Dec 8), is being leased from Sloane Helicopters as part of an ongoing lease agreement.
Since the charity’s 2008 launch the helicopter has attended more than 2,600 missions. Crew are operational during daylight hours, seven days a week.
It costs more than £1.5m a year to keep the service operational. The service is supported entirely through voluntary donations.