New rescue helicopter for night flights

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A new helicopter, capable of night flying, will be saving lives across the county with Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance.

The charity has announced the arrival of its new helicopter.

It is a newer version of the MD902 Explorer.

This new aircraft will replace the charity’s existing helicopter based at Redhill.

It will be ready for night flying in late summer.

In preparation for the charity’s 24-hour operation, the charity’s specialist doctor and paramedic crew have already begun to deliver a medical service using an emergency response car through the night.

Adrian Bell, chief executive of the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance, said, ‘We believe that there is a real and identifiable need for the skills of a specialist medical team during the night as well as through the day.

“To this end, we have replaced one of our helicopters with a new version capable of night operations.

“While we are waiting for the necessary regulatory processes to be completed we have started operating by car during the hours of darkness.

“This has been a very useful exercise in helping us to prepare for a 24-hour operation and has allowed us to learn more about the technicalities and logistics of operating at night without the incumbencies of aviation issues.”

The Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance has helicopters based at Marden and Redhill. The helicopter at Marden will continue to operate during daylight hours and is expected to be replaced with a night flying capable aircraft within the next 18 months.

The Sussex Air Ambulance first came into existence in 2007 and responds rapidly to 999 calls with a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) and air ambulance service.

Patients can be transferred by air to an appropriate major hospital or specialist unit, dramatically improving chances of survival and a speedy recovery.