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Monday, 23 September, 2002, 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK
Air ambulance struggles for funds
air ambulance
The helicopter can travel at a top speed of 150 mph
Fund-raisers say they need to come up with 1m a year to keep air ambulance services in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire in the air.

The entire cost of the quick-response helicopter service is paid by donations, unlike most of Europe where the money comes from the government.

Vivenne Chambers, a fundraiser from Nottinghamshire, says not many people realise that all the money needed to run the service comes from donations.

"It still surprises people when I tell them where the money comes from," she told the BBC's Inside Out documentary team.

Head-on crash

Chris Smith, 17, of Ilkeston in Derbyshire, who was almost killed in a road accident in May 2002, has expressed his thanks for the service in a personal webpage.

Mr Smith's best friend was killed in the crash, and he believes he would not have survived if the air ambulance had not taken him to hospital.

"We were on the A52 and we hit some bad weather. The car skidded and hit another car head on.

Alison Wanless
Alison was injured in a horse-riding accident

Another accident victim, Alison Wanless, was thrown off a horse while riding near Walesby, in north Nottinghamshire.

Paramedics arrived by helicopter and gave her oxygen, put on a neck brace and put her in a stretcher.

She was flown to hospital in Lincoln and eventually recovered.

"I got some blood in the centre of my brain, and it was surrounded by fluid and it left me with no memory of the event at all.

Ms Wanless said: "I think they did an excellent job, obviously I wouldn't be in such good shape today if they didn't.

"I'm just amazed that they do it all by public subscription."

Golden Hour

Neurosurgeon Dr Terence Hope says the first hour is vital for accident victims: "It is crucial to get the accident victim to hospital within 60 minutes, what is called the Golden Hour.

"Otherwise lack of oxygen to the brain or other complications can cause problems."

Dr Hope said the ambulance service needs better support: "We are lagging behind other parts of Europe ... we are certainly far behind in the concept of rapid resuscitation and rapid air transport."

A cheque being presented to the air ambulance
All of the service's funds are raised from donations

George Phillips, a pilot with Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance, said: "We are attending other people's tragedies, perhaps for them a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but we see it three or four times a day.

The service's helicopter is based at RAF Waddington near Lincoln and can fly at top speeds of 150 mph, and can land almost anywhere in the county.

The helicopter covers an area of 3,600 square miles and is never more than 20 minutes from any accident victim in the two counties.

The government has already commissioned a report into the way that air ambulance services are funded across the country.

Inside Out is on BBC One at 1930 BST on Mondays.

Click here to go to Lincolnshire

Click here to go to Nottingham
See also:

13 Dec 01 | England
26 Sep 01 | Health
26 Nov 99 | N Ireland
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