Page last updated at 05:50 GMT, Wednesday, 1 April 2009 06:50 UK

Air ambulance helicopter unveiled


Paramedic Ross Griffin explains some of the features of the new EC-135 air amubulance

Wales Air Ambulance says its new purpose-built helicopter has technology that will help save lives.

The helicopter, which was unveiled in Cardiff, was designed with the help of air crew paramedics.

On-board technology will allow faster take-off times and help pilots to locate incidents more quickly.

The helicopter, which will be located at the charity's southern airbase in Swansea, has a bigger interior and is slightly faster than the current model.

South airbase paramedic supervisor Aneurin Heath said: "Careful consideration has been given to the interior design of the new generation aircraft, and the location of each piece of medical equipment used to treat patients onboard.

The new air ambulance
The new aircraft will make a big difference to the work that the paramedics carry out
Angela Hughes, Wales Air Ambulance chief executive

"Casualties will be loaded onto the aircraft from the side as opposed to the rear, making them feel less claustrophobic and giving the paramedics more room to work."

Wales Air Ambulance, which has carried out more than 10,000 missions, launched an appeal to raise money for three new air ambulances across Wales to comply with civil aviation legislation.

The service - which has three airbases in south, mid and north Wales - costs around £5m a year and is dependent on public donations.

Chief executive Angela Hughes said the people of Wales had "wholeheartedly" supported the charity.

Injured child

"The new aircraft will make a big difference to the work that the paramedics carry out, and we are delighted that we have been able to rise to the challenge of reaching our target of £5m for the year," she said.

Features of the new EC-135 air ambulance include extra space inside to help paramedics treat patients and an extra seat that can accommodate a doctor or the parent of an injured child.

Pre-flight checks on the current Bolkow-105 model, a standard helicopter which has been converted into an air ambulance, are carried out manually but the new helicopter has a computerised system which allows quicker take-offs.

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