The new Cornwall Air Ambulance AW169 helicopter started active service today (April 1).

Following the success of the New Heli Appeal, a two-year fundraising campaign to help purchase a next generation helicopter, this new aircraft brings a range of benefits that ultimately adds up to saving more time and more lives.

Barbara Sharples, trustee and chair of the New Heli Appeal, said: “It is with immense gratitude and pride that I thank the wonderful people, businesses and communities of Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly and beyond. So many have donated so much. Today is a moment that will ensure Cornwall Air Ambulance saves even more lives in the future. A moment for our county to feel proud.”

Air operations officer, Steve Garvey, explains the difference the new aircraft will make to the service the critical care team can provide.

“We had one priority in mind when we were looking at bringing a new air ambulance to Cornwall – it must help us save more lives. Part of this means having the ability to carry more medical equipment so we can make more lifesaving interventions. The extra power of the AW169 will allow us to do this.

“As paramedics and doctors, we talk about patient outcomes a lot. That basically means we want the people we treat to make the best recovery possible. The faster we can reach a patient and treat them, the better their chances of survival are. The AW169 will allow us to reach patients more quickly. We are in turn able to start their treatment earlier and improve that patient’s outcome.

“The greater space and access to patients is a major benefit of the new aircraft. The scene of an emergency can be a very difficult place to treat a critically ill or injured person. Whether we land at the aftermath of a car accident or find ourselves treating someone on a busy beach, the environment can cause additional stress to a patient. Removing them from the public gaze into a warm, safe environment so we can assess and treat them in a cabin with enough space to do so will make a huge difference.

“The AW169 gives our team 360-degree access to the patient with a stretcher down the middle, whereas in our current aircraft we can only treat them from one side. It may sound simple, but having the extra space to allow two crew members to work on a patient will greatly improve the care we can give.”

Despite the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the charity continues to operate its lifesaving service, ensuring that those in urgent need of care receive the best possible chance of survival.

Chief executive Paula Martin said: “We have taken active steps, in accordance with government and NHS guidelines to ensure that the service the crew provides remains intact. In today’s climate dominated by coronavirus headlines, the fact that the new helicopter is ready to take flight is some positive news. As a charity, our focus will always remain on providing the best possible service to the people of Cornwall and the new helicopter marks a new era in the level of care the crew can provide.”