Coronavirus: Air ambulance charity 'humbled' by donations plea

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image copyrightMagpas Air Ambulance
image captionMagpas crews made a desperate plea for specialist respirators and suits

An air ambulance charity that made a plea for extra personal protection equipment (PPE) says it has been "humbled" by the public's generosity.

Magpas Air Ambulance, based in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, had less than a month's worth left due to NHS-wide shortages.

It has received more than 700 masks, suits and respirators within 10 days.

A spokesman said the rapid response from individuals and businesses had been "absolutely fantastic".

Magpas is one of three air ambulance services serving the east of England, alongside Essex and Herts Air Ambulance (EHAA) and the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA).

It delivers hospital-level care to emergency patients from its base at RAF Wyton, and it entirely funded by public donations.

Paramedic and clinical operations manager Andy Smith said protective gear was "vital to prevent staff being directly exposed to the virus".

He said the current crisis had "brought the air ambulance community together", with all three services sharing resources where they can.

image copyrightRob Holding/Magpas Air Ambulance
image captionMagpas staff have to deep clean the air ambulance every two hours during the coronavirus pandemic

The charity appealed for respirator masks, surgical gloves, clinical aprons, coverall suits, anti-fog glasses, anti-bacterial wipes and gel.

Collectors and businesses from across the east of England donated 725 items, including specialist surgical masks and white suits - as well as hundreds of spare filters, and dozens of bottles of sanitiser.

"The last 10 days or so have highlighted how amazing the local communities that we serve have been and continue to be; in fact this whole experience epitomises true community unity," a charity spokeswoman said.

The priority now will be to "build on the momentum" with financial donations, she said.

The charity is unable to fundraise under social distancing regulations imposed by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

An appeal on its website said income over the coming months was set to fall by £200,000.

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