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Saturday, 30 May 2015

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New airport base for mercy helicopter

THE life-saving service operated by the Great North Air Ambulance is about to get even better in Tynedale.

For coverage of the district should improve dramatically following the opening of a new base for the mercy helicopter at Newcastle Airport.

The charity has traditionally operated from bases at Durham Tees Valley Airport and Langwathby near Penrith in Cumbria, so the third base will mean a better service for the North-East as a whole.

Director of operations at GNAAS, Kevin Hodgson, said: “ This is great news for the charity and great news for the region.

“It means we can now refuel and be ready for action quicker than ever before.

“We remain committed to Durham Tees Valley Airport, which has been a great supporter of the charity, but this arrangement just gives us greater flexibility and that can only be of benefit to the patient.

“We would like to thank Newcastle International Airport for their support, this will make a big difference to the service we offer the region.”

GNAAS helicopters are frequent visitors to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Hospital, which is one of only 12 hospitals listed by the NHS as adult and children’s major trauma centres in the country, along with the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Instead of flying straight back to base near Darlington, the helicopters will now be able to stop-over at Newcastle, allowing for a more rapid refuelling and restocking, while providing the doctors, paramedics and pilots time to prepare for their next assignment.

The new base features office space, toilet and kitchen facilities.

The benefits of the new base were demonstrated earlier this month, when a woman broke both legs in a fall on Holy Island.

The charity’s Guardian of the North aircraft was already situated at the new base and reached the scene in seven minutes.

From its normal base, the flight would have taken around 20 minutes.

Mr Hodgson said: “When responding to an emergency, time can be absolutely critical to the patient’s survival.”

Chief executive of Newcastle Airport Dave Laws said: “We are pleased to support the Great North Air Ambulance and their activities across the region which help so many people each year.”

The Great North Air Ambulance Service is 100 per cent charitably funded and must raise around £4m a year to stay in the air.

It flies around 1,000 missions a year across the North-East, North Yorkshire and Cumbria.