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Devon's new angel of the skies
New Devon air ambulance
The new Devon Air Ambulance
Each year, the Devon Air Ambulance takes to the skies on rescue missions to reach patients and fly them back to hospital. After 12 years, the old chopper has been replaced by a new one - but it doesn't come cheap!
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Devon's brand spanking new air ambulance took to the skies for the first time in August 2004, replacing the charity's orginal chopper which was in service for 12 years.

The new EC135 helicopter is bigger and faster than the previous one and has better facilities for patients.

It has greater fuel consumption and more powerful engines so it can stay in the air for longer and get to awkward places.

The pilot in the helicopter
Up in the air!
The extra room inside also means that patients can be kept more comfortable.

But all this comes at a cost, and the Devon Air Ambulance Trust (DAAT) had to make sure the charity had £1m in reserves before going ahead with leasing the craft.

Operational costs will also increase - to £1.8 million a year from next year.

However, the investment is helping the Westcountry Ambulance Service Trust to reach patients in isolated parts of Devon - such as the coastline and Dartmoor.

The new helicopter follows three years of hard work and preparation by DAAT. Lyn Paver, of the trust, travelled to Oxford where the chopper was kitted out in a hangar.

Lyn Paver
Lyn Paver
"Wow - it's reality now," she said. "My first reaction is that we finally got there. We've managed it.

"For two or three years now we've been working towards it, and now we've got there."

The air ambulance is called out dozens of times each year, and can literally be a life-saver.

The air ambulance trust's fund-raising efforts are non-stop, and relies on the support of the public.

You can help by visiting the trust's website and clicking onto the Helping DAAT link.

Article published: August 2004


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