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Last Updated: Friday, 8 June 2007, 20:09 GMT 21:09 UK
New helicopter ambulance airborne
Dr Malcolm Russell
Supporters say the air ambulance will help save lives
An air ambulance which will serve the counties of Surrey and Sussex has taken to the skies.

The new service, based at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey, will be able to land at three hospitals in Sussex and two in Surrey.

The counties had previously relied on Kent's helicopter for their air ambulance service.

Supporters who raised the 500,000 needed to launch the new helicopter said it would help save more lives.

A pledge has been made that all patients will be transferred to the nearest hospital within 10 minutes.

'Life-saving intervention'

A high-profile supporter of the service, the television actress Penelope Keith, said: "You see out here [in Dunsfold Park] it is quite inaccessible, and you can only have so many motorised ambulances.

"The fact that a helicopter can cover the distance so quickly has got to help, it's got to be marvellous."

Air ambulance medic Dr Malcolm Russell said the team of skilled paramedics and doctors could "provide life-saving intervention."

He added: "Essentially it is [there] to deliver a scarce resource, this special team, to the right patient at the right time, and get them to the right hospital in the right time."

About 1.5m in donations is still needed to keep the Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance Service airborne over the next 12 months.

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