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Night time air ambulance 'will save lives'

The Kent Air Ambulance is to start flying at night which, says boss David Philpott, means even more lives can be saved.

The charity will now be able to cover any incident where life is at stake right up until 1.30am every night of the week.

The service will start from Tuesday, April 1 and is a collaboration between the Marden-based air ambulance, Sussex Police and the South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

The air ambulance will use a helicopter owned by Sussex Police but will pay for it to cover neighbouring Kent as well as its home county.

The MD 902 Explorer, similar to the ones the air ambulance already uses, is already equipped to fly at night and has a full-time paramedic attached to it which is paid for by the NHS.

If successful, air ambulance bosses say they will also consider paying for an onboard night doctor as well, who would be able to perform life-saving surgery during flights.

Mr Philpott, chief executive of the air ambulance, said: “This is a big step for the air ambulance.

“Until now we have only been able to fly our helicopters during daylight hours.

“It would cost well in excess of £1m each to equip our own helicopters with lights and night flying vision to allow them to safely fly in the dark.

“By ultilising the police helicopter, which already has this equipment fitted, we believe that more lives can be saved.”

Jeremy Paine, assistant chief constable of Sussex Police, said: “As an emergency service we understand too well the difference timely medical help can make to a severely injured person.

“This collaboration allows us to invest further in our helicopter so it can support future police operations in Sussex, as well as providing night time air cover in a medical emergency.”

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