Air ambulance service announces night-time service

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THE county’s air ambulance has announced it will start preparing to become a round-the-clock service.

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA) said it will upgrade to a specially-equipped new helicopter next year, which will have full night flying capability.

Currently the ambulance can only fly in daylight.

Staff training to use the aircraft at night, plus plans to ensure all hospital helipads are well-lit during darker hours are now under way.

John Perry, chief executive of HIOWAA, said: ‘As a charity, we are committed to a path of continuous development and we have been progressively increasing our hours of coverage for some time now.

‘It is thanks to the generosity and commitment of the people of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight that we are able to take this important step forward and commit to night-time flying.

‘As a young charity, this is considerable achievement, keeping us at the forefront of helicopter emergency services care, and allowing us to continuously improve our service to our community.’

In August last year, the air ambulance charity launched its Minutes Matter Campaign.

As reported in The News, it was a fundraising campaign which has raised £1.5m in cash and legacy pledges.

It is largely thanks to this campaign that the charity is now looking at night flying.

Tim Shattock, managing director of Bond Air Services, which provides the helicopters, said: ‘Introducing night operations will add an extra dimension of capability to our world-class air ambulance support, helping us save lives and provide support where needed.’