If you’ve read any of my previous blogs (and I really hope you have) you will know I’m running my first ever marathon on 17th April in Brighton. I’ll also be competing in a middle distance Triathlon (1900m swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) in July. Yep, it’ll be my first one of those too.
Now part of the reason for doing these events is that I love a personal challenge. Training for the marathon and balancing work and family commitments is certainly delivering that challenge. Once the marathon training is done, it will be time for early morning runs to be replaced with early morning pool swims and cycling everywhere.
But there’s a problem with all this: it’s all just a bit self indulgent. I decided earlier this year that I wanted the effort I’m putting in on this journey to not just feed my own ego, but to benefit others as well. For that reason I’m competing in these events to raise money for the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA). I’d love for you to make a donation to my justgiving page HERE, but I’d like to offer some words which I hope will validate why a donation to this charity is such a great thing to do.
This week, I took an afternoon off work so that my wife, kids and I could pay a visit to the EAAA hangar at Norwich Airport and get a more in depth look at what the team do.
We were lucky enough to meet the on duty crew: two pilots with 6500 flying hours between them, a critical-care paramedic and a doctor. The crew had already flown two missions that day. We also met with one of the funding co-ordinators and one of the operations team. Everyone was really friendly and made us feel really welcome.
Now let’s get to some specifics. The aircraft we saw was one of the service’s two H145 helicopters and it was received into service in February 2016. The other is based in Cambridge and came into use in April 2015. The H145 replaced an older model helicopter and whilst not significantly faster, it carries more fuel which means greater range and less refuelling between missions. It also has more cabin space enabling the clinical team to do more for patients en route to hospital. The pilots can be airborne within 4 minutes of receiving a call and they can be anywhere in the region within 25 minutes. The crews operate between 07:00 and 19:00 from the Norwich base and from 07:00 to 01:00 from the Cambridge base. EAAA was the first Helicopter Emergency Medical Service to attend emergency incidents in hours of darkness. Although the service is not yet 24 hours, analysis is being conducted into feasibility of such operations.
The cost of running the operation is significant. It costs around £10.2 million to keep the aircraft in the air over the course of a year. Fuel costs around £200 per flying hour and an average mission cost is around £3500. Since its launch in 2000 EAAA has flown around 17,000 missions. EAAA receives no regular Government funding and the charity relies solely on public donations and community fundraising to keep these operations running.
The thing that really brought the visit into context for me was not actually part of the visit at all. The crew had told us that they had already flown two missions that day, but they didn’t give us the details. On the way home in the car, we heard on the radio news that one of the morning’s missions had been to attend a motorcycle road accident. At that incident, the rider had been pronounced dead at the scene. The road was closed for around eight hours. The crew we had been chatting with only an hour before, had been dealing that morning with a situation so unpleasant and tragic I just don’t want to imagine it in detail, yet they had the professionalism to chat and welcome us into their world despite what they had seen earlier that day.
This incident also demonstrates the EAAA objective: “to provide the best possible outcomes for people involved in incidents or medical emergencies”.
Sadly, sometimes even a 130mph helicopter is not enough, but there are a great many patients whose lives have been saved by the EAAA team. A look at the mission map on the EAAA website is testament to this. A donation on my justgiving page is a donation that directly contributes to SAVING LIVES. I personally feel a lot safer knowing that EAAA is there and I hope you do too.
Please, visit my page and donate what you can. Thank you .