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Essex and Herts Air Ambulance applies to build £4m base

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EHAAT's proposed new base (6169446)
EHAAT's proposed new base (6169446)

Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust (EHAAT) is seeking planning permission to build new £4m premises for its helicopter emergency medical service in and around Bishop’s Stortford.

A planning application has been submitted to Epping Forest District Council for work at North Weald. If it is successful, the charity plans to start building work in 2019 and to complete by October 2020.

Chairman of trustees Jonathan Trower said: “The decision to proceed with this development, which will cost in the region of £4m, was taken after long and careful consideration by the trustees and the executive team.

“Having looked at all the options for securing the long-term security of our operation, we believe that building our own facility at North Weald is the best way forward. It will give us security of tenure after October 2020, when our current lease expires, and building ourselves results in significant cost savings compared to leasing a new building built to the same specification.”

Cliff Gale, operations director at EHAAT, said: “The proposed structure will contain areas for training, mentoring, patient liaison and cross-training with other emergency services, which will benefit both EHAAT and the local pre-hospital care community.

"The new facility will also provide a visitor centre, which will allow us to welcome and engage with the local community, and space for our Hertfordshire fundraising team to work more closely with their clinical colleagues.”

In addition to the proposed new airbase at North Weald, the charity is considering ways to improve and future-proof facilities at its Earls Colne site.

EHAAT factfile

  • The charity provides a helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) for the critically ill and injured of Essex, Hertfordshire and surrounding areas
  • It is provided free of charge, but, unlike NHS emergency services, EHAAT receives no direct funding from the Government or National Lottery
  • It costs more than £500,000 a month to keep the service operational
  • Each HEMS team consists of a pilot, a co-pilot, a pre-hospital care doctor and a critical care paramedic
  • The fleet – two air ambulances and four rapid response vehicles (RRVs) – operates seven days a week from 7am to 9pm. After sunset, the critical care team continues to provide the service using RRVs
  • An RRV is operational on Friday and Saturday evenings from 6pm until 2am, with a pre-hospital care doctor and critical care paramedic
  • EHAAT teams tended to 1,505 patients in 2017-18

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