July 2018 Speaker
Following our very successful 20th anniversary celebrations in June with our Garden Party at Galleywood Heritage Centre, we returned to our monthly meetings in Great Baddow United Reformed Church in July. Our speaker was Lesley Morrissey a local volunteer with the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust.
Lesley’s first contact with the Air Ambulance service was whilst she was working at a Ford Motor Company Open Day when she was asked to interview an Air Ambulance Pilot. From there she was invited to meet the Chief Executive Officer at Stansted to find out more about the organisation.
The Essex Air Ambulance was set up about 20 years ago in 1997 and started rescue flights in 1998. One of its first operations was to rescue a 2 year old girl who had walked out into the muddy water on Mersea Island. Her mother had tried to rescue her and then also became stuck in the mud. So the helicopter was the only solution, and fortunately that provided a happy outcome to the episode.
Lesley's experience on these occasions inspired her to set up talks for local organisations and to become a volunteer to help raise funds for the organisation.
She showed us photos of the two red modern helicopters which are used today. They are leased, together with the 2 pilots and 2 doctors, who are trained rescue and medical staff.
In 2008 Essex combined with Hertfordshire Air Ambulance so they now deal with emergencies in both counties and also help out in neighbouring counties if needed. They are based at North Weald airport and their head office is at Earls Colne. The helicopters cost about £500,000 per month and the organisation relies on donations from Essex and Herts businesses and public. No money is received from the government.
If 999 is dialled the control centre decide if the air ambulance is needed, if so in 7 minutes the helicopter is in the air, then can reach anywhere in Essex in 25 minutes. It isn’t able to fly at night as it cannot land in darkness, so cannot be used then.
All crew attend regular training with continuous role play using electronic dummies to cope with different situations. There are 36 Air Ambulance services across the UK and 250 to 300 volunteers who help with the Lottery and fundraising events throughout the year.