MIDLANDS Air Ambulance has unveiled its first wholly owned helicopter - and has launched a £250,000 appeal to ensure it stays in the air and saves more lives.
The helicopter, which will serve Stafford, Stone and Rugeley, as well as Shropshire, is based at RAF Cosford, where the crew now have their own quarters, re-built especially for it.
And the helicopter, which has the registration G-OMAA, has sparked the GoMAA appeal, which aims to raise an extra £250,000 to enable the life saving service to extend its winter flyer hours to 12 hours a day.
The three Midlands Air Ambulance helicopters currently up and running from Cosford, Tatenhill near Burton and Worcester, only operate during daylight hours and those are reduced in the winter months.
But the extra funding and hours will mean the service can get to more incidents at night and on a daily basis to save more lives.
The Air Ambulance service relies solely on donations from the public, receiving no help from the Government or National Lottery funding.
On-board doctor Clare Bosankq(COR), 36, from Penkridge, said: “The new helicopter and new facilities will make a huge difference. We do a lot of training because treating people in the air is a lot different to on the ground. There are more safety issues and aviation checks to do, while also trying to look after a patient.
“It is a wonderful service and the extra hours spent in the air will mean we can get to more people.”
Hanna Sebright, director of Midlands Air Ambulance, said: “This is a momentous occasion. We are celebrating two milestones. Our own helicopter and the redevelopment of our base at Cosford. Since we came here in the 1990s the base has not been touched.
“With the demand for the Air Ambulance and the increasing requirement of clinical experts growing it was important we provided the crew with a base they could go to after traumatic jobs and with somewhere to rest.
“We have completely re-built our accommodation with dedicated clinical training rooms and overnight bunks and rest areas.”