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April 25 2013.

Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance provided the Rotary Club of Seaford April lunchtime presentation. Mike Hemmings sent us this report:

Our lunchtime speaker on Wednesday 10th April was John Kenton-Page from the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance Trust. Our previous visit from the Trust had been some five years ago and it was obvious from the start of the talk that the organisation had advanced and changed in many ways since then and was looking at further change in the future.

The KSS Air Ambulance traces its origins to the Kent Service started in 1989. In 2007 a service started in Surrey and Sussex and the organisations combined in 2011. Initially there was only one helicopter manned by paramedics and it was seen as a way of getting patients from places difficult to access by land ambulance and reaching a destination hospital more quickly, as an extension of the normal ambulance service.

In 2005 this service was one of the first in this country to include a doctor on the team, allowing more complex diagnostic decisions to be made on site and increasing the range of immediate treatments available. More recently the facilities on board have been upgraded to the standard and complexity seen only in a major Hospital A&E department and the range of treatment available immediately has consequently changed from being purely palliative to virtually any immediately necessary surgical or medical intervention up to and including open heart surgery.

This ability has had a dramatic effect on survival rates from the accidents and emergencies attended and the Service is now designated as a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS).

The Service now has two helicopters incorporating the unique NOTAR system. This means that the helicopter does not have a tail rotor. The benefits of this system are increased safety, lower noise levels, better performance and controllability enhancements. Patients can be taken to Major Trauma Centres with landing facilities, currently all in London, as Brighton has no landing pad. Any part of the region can be reached within 20 minutes.

The Service attends an average of four to six incidents a day and is deployed by paramedics working on the HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) desk at the 999 control centre. 87% of callouts are to incidents including road accidents (43%), and 13% are to medical emergencies such as cardiac arrests and strokes.

There is a close liaison with South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb), Police, Fire and the Coastguard Service.

The Service is a charity and is not centrally financed, but relies on donations from the public, business and other charitable organisation in the three counties covered as well as its own lottery. The average cost of each mission is £2500 and the annual cost of the Service is £5 million at present, though this will rise when planned improvements, including the capability for night flying, come into being shortly.

Members of The Rotary Club of Seaford support this Service knowing that at any time we and those in the community we serve may have the misfortune to need its help and its capability to save lives and minimise the consequences of serious and life threatening illness and injury.

For further information on the service visit: