Page last updated at 20:19 GMT, Friday, 26 September 2008 21:19 UK

Charity buys 3.3m air ambulance

Devon's new air ambulance
Devon's two air ambulances have flown more than 13,000 missions

A Devon charity believes more lives will be saved with its newest purchase.

The Devon Air Ambulance Trust (DAAT) has bought a EC135 helicopter outright, rather than leasing it.

The 3.3m air ambulance was specially designed with the help of one of the trust's paramedics.

DAAT raises 3m in donations every year to keep its two helicopters airborne.

The charity was set up by Ann Thomas 16 years ago in memory of her son.

"At no time could I let it be a failure, and the Devon people have taken it to their hearts," she told BBC News.

The charity said having two air ambulances meant 50% of the county could be reached in about five minutes, with the remainder within 15 minutes.

The new helicopter's design features include improved onboard storage facilities, an upgraded navigation system and a one-handed rear door system which will enable the safer removal of equipment while the helicopter's rotor blades are turning.

To date, the air ambulances have flown more than 13,000 missions.

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