Flying high in county’s new 999 helicopter

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LIFESAVING medics are flying high in a new state-of-the-art helicopter that will help them provide vital assistance across the county.

The machine – the fastest civilian helicopter available – is a “fabulous” Christmas gift for Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance said chief executive Andy Williamson.

He added: “Our team is constantly driven by providing the best possible care for patients and this means having the best possible equipment.

“We are therefore rightly excited to share our new helicopter with our supporters.”

Cruise speeds just short of 200mph can be achieved in the leased Italian Agusta Grand machine, launched at the air ambulance’s base at East Midlands Airport. It can be airborne in 45 seconds, compared to some that take up to five minutes, meaning care can be provided more quickly on the scene which is often the difference between life and death.

Hi-tech medical and radio equipment, plus instruments to allow flying in all weathers, will aid the service in rapidly responding to emergency calls over an area of 2,100 square miles every day.

It also has the lowest cabin vibration of any air ambulance helicopter – essential when transporting head neck or spinal injuries.

Mr Williamson added: “Our new helicopter will greatly improve reliability, reduce maintenance and downtime.”

Since launching in 2008 more than 2,600 missions have been attended by the county air ambulance service.