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Last Updated: Monday, 28 February, 2005, 08:53 GMT
Cash crisis grounds air ambulance
Air Ambulance
The air ambulance began operating six months ago
A cash crisis has grounded an air ambulance launched just six months ago.

A 20,000-a-month shortfall in public donations means the aircraft is languishing in a hanger in Cumbria.

The Great North Air Ambulance charity says vital donations have been diverted to high-profile appeals following the Cumbria floods and Asian tsunami.

An aircraft operated by another charity - the North West Air Ambulance - is operating normally, although officials say its workload will now increase.

Officials at the Great North Air Ambulance hope the grounded aircraft will be operational again within months.

'Emergencies covered'

Charity spokeswoman Pippa Holt said: "Like many other charities we have been hit by the tsunami appeal and in Cumbria by the Carlisle floods.

"In the six months since we've been operating in Cumbria, the aircraft has carried out 200 missions, which proves what a need there is for the air ambulance.

"We think we're going to be on the ground only for a few months. Once our funding is back, the aircraft will be back in the air."

It costs about 300,000 a year to operate the Cumbria aircraft, which is in a hangar in Appleby.

Operators of the county's other air ambulance, the North West Air Ambulance, has given a reassurance it will remain in the air.

Charity chief executive Lynda Brislin said: "The suspension of the Pride of Cumbria will not leave the residents of the county without emergency helicopter cover.

"Our aircraft has a maximum flying time of 10 minutes to the nearest appropriate hospital anywhere in the region."

On average the helicopter is called out four times a day, rising up to 10 in the summer.




SEE ALSO:
Sky-high paramedic touches down
15 Jul 03 |  England
Second air ambulance takes off
24 Mar 03 |  England


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