The Great North Air Ambulance has opened a new base which enables it to reach north Northumberland faster than before.
It now has a base at Newcastle International Airport, in addition to its main operational headquarters at Durham Tees Valley Airport and at Langwathby in Cumbria.
Kevin Hodgson, director of operations at GNAAS, said the Newcastle base would provide a strategic waypoint which will allow the charity to better serve the north east as a whole.
“This is great news for the charity and great news for the region,” he added. “It means we can now refuel and be ready for action quicker than ever before.
“We remain committed to Durham Tees Valley Airport, which has been a great supporter of the charity, but this arrangement just gives us greater flexibility, and that can only be of benefit to the
“We would like to thank Newcastle International Airport for their support, this will make a big difference to the service we offer the region.”
The GNAAS aircraft are frequent visitors to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Hospital. Instead of flying straight back to its base near Darlington, the helicopters will now be able to stop-over in Tyne and Wear, allowing for a more rapid refuelling and restocking, while providing the doctors, paramedics and pilots time to prepare for their next assignment.
Testing of the new arrangement has already highlighted how important it could prove to be. On May 11, a woman fell at home in Swinhoe, near Holy Island, suffering two suspected broken legs.
The charity’s aircraft was already situated at the new base, and from there reached the scene in seven minutes. From its normal base, the flight would have taken around 20 minutes.
Mr Hodgson said: “When responding to an emergency, time can be absolutely critical to the patient’s survival. Anyone in Northumberland will benefit from much quicker response times when the aircraft is stationed at the new base.”
Dave Laws, chief executive of Newcastle International Airport, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Great North Air Ambulance with a new base here.”
“Good transport links are essential, not only for the North-East travelling public, but for services like the air ambulance, that have to reach people in need as quickly and efficiently as possible. We are pleased to support the Great North Air Ambulance and their activities across the region which help so many people each year.”