A new air ambulance is now available in Northamptonshire and neighbouring counties but £5million must be raised to keep it in the air.
Magpas Air Ambulance launched the new, state-of-the-art, aircraft from its operations base in Huntingdon yesterday (Thursday) and flew on to four locations across the east of England.
Among the crowds were former patients who have survived life-threatening experiences thanks to the crucial care they were given.
Also attending were school pupils and staff, businesses and individuals who have embarked on phenomenal fundraising challenges, as well as other prominent members of the local community.
Those present were given a close up experience of the new AugustaWestland 169 (AW169), which is set to become the new Magpas Air Ambulance, on May 1.
The current helicopter has come to the end of its working life as an air ambulance.
On average, the Magpas Air Ambulance medical team were called to Northamptonshire twice a week in 2018.
The new helicopter will enable them to go further, faster, to an even greater number of patients; providing lifesaving care to patients in life threatening emergencies in the east of England and beyond.
One of the many people who appreciates the vital difference the charity makes is Robert Kerr, dad of former patient and speedway rider Lewis Kerr.
Rob said: "My son had an accident in 2015 in Peterborough when he was knocked off his bike and suffered a serious head injury.
Magpas Air Ambulance flew in with their specialist medical team. Lewis wasn't breathing - the doctor and paramedic put him into a medically induced coma on the track and got him off to Addenbrooke’s Hospital. Ten days later he walked out, so we'll all be eternally grateful."
The Magpas Air Ambulance medical team receives enhanced training which allows medics to offer procedures and treatments at the scene, like general anaesthetic, which is usually only available in hospital.
Robert’s wife and mum of Lewis, Jane Kerr, said: "I would have loved to have gotten onto that helicopter with Lewis but there wasn't enough room at the time. So to know this helicopter is bigger and a parent can go now means everything because children are frightened in that time and so is everyone else, you don’t want to be separated.
"It means absolutely everything to me. I just want to say thank you to Magpas Air Ambulance for everything they've done, I’ll be eternally grateful, because our son wouldn't be here without them."
Magpas Medical Director, doctor Simon Lewis, added: “With the new aircraft, we can now get to patients like Lewis much quicker and we’re able to carry more medical kit too - which gets the A&E to the patient quicker and saves those lives.”
“Crucially, the purpose of yesterday’s event was to invite as many people as we could to help celebrate this milestone in the future of lifesaving care.
"Magpas Air Ambulance can only exist because of the communities within which we work. Without our supporters, we wouldn’t be able to bring this new aircraft to the region.”
To keep this new air ambulance flying the charity will need an extra £50,000 a month. To read more about how you can go #FurtherFasterGreater to support Magpas Air Ambulance, click here.