Plan could cost vital minutes in an emergency situation

ALL East Sussex residents should be very concerned we face the threat of losing the rapid response of the familiar sight of the police helicopter if its base is moved from Shoreham in Sussex to Dunsfold aerodrome in Surrey (Eastbourne Herald, October 21).

All Sussex MPs, I hope, will protest vigorously on behalf of 300,000 residents to keep the helicopter based in Sussex to provide essential emergency cover for the county.

The number of helicopters will be reduced if current plans for the National Police Air Service are rolled out.

The helicopter provides vital 24-hour cover for Sussex with a 20-minute response time but Sussex Police Federation chairman Bob Brown fears this will be increased to 30 minutes for people to be reached in parts of East Sussex.

These are vital minutes which cannot afford to be lost in an emergency situation.

This service is especially vital to Eastbourne with Beachy Head an area which does attract attention during the year.

The police helicopter has located and found numerous lost people, especially children, and plays a vital role in the location and capture of criminals trying to escape from police. These people could pose a great danger to the public.

The helicopter also carries a paramedic and is often used as an air ambulance airlifting seriously injured people to hospital saving vital time.

Lost minutes could quite literally be the difference between life and death. These national proposals will drastically reduce police air cover which will undoubtedly hamper police operations in the pursuit of keeping us all safe. This is unacceptable in my view.

While I fully appreciate money does have to be saved, this should never be at the expense of public safety or the hampering of police operations.

Each county needs its own police helicopter and it should never be placed under threat through cost-cutting measures.

Steve Fuller

Rowan Avenue, Hove