Norfolk

Air ambulance launches £100,000 appeal for PPE

An air ambulance Image copyright Olivia Howitt
Image caption The Duke of Cambridge flew with the EAAA for two years until July 2017

An air ambulance charity is making an "emergency appeal" for money to weather the "unforeseen cost" of the coronavirus pandemic.

The East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) needs £100,000 for additional personal protective equipment (PPE) over the next six months, a spokesman said.

Donations would help "keep critical care teams safe and support the region's emergency services," he added.

It has already drawn on reserves of £25,000 to "adapt to the pandemic".

Image copyright East Anglian Air Ambulance
Image caption EAAA critical care paramedic Sam Sweeney in PPE

Head of operations, Richard Hindson, said the EAAA was still dealing with road collisions, falls and medical emergencies - as well as Covid-19 patients.

"At a time like this we can't take any chances with the safety of our crews, but we also need to be able to provide the same level of care for our patients," he said.

"The equipment we now need to operate safely is a huge unforeseen cost that simply hasn't been budgeted for, but we can't send our crews out without it."

The service, which operates across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, attended 178 missions and treated 111 patients last month alone.

Image copyright East Anglian Air Ambulance
Image caption Critical care paramedic Nigel Strange and Dr Rishi Rallan in PPE gear

The appeal comes just days after staff at another air ambulance charity in the East, Magpas, said they were "humbled" by the public's generosity after appealing for donations of face masks, suits and respirators.

Mr Hindson said medical procedures, such as CPR or intubation, require the right PPE to avoid "a very high risk of great exposure to the virus."

Air ambulance crews need different respirator filters and large amounts of anti-viral cleaning materials to deep-clean equipment between missions.

Fundraising events have been postponed because of nationwide social distancing measures.

"The way in which we operate has had to change so much, incredibly quickly, but our crews have been amazing and are still out there every day, not knowing what they might come into contact with once they get to scene," Mr Hindson said.

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