East Anglian Air Ambulance

The East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) is an air ambulance providing Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) across the English counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire. The appeal to fund the service was launched in the summer of 2000 by top jockey Frankie Dettori, who had been a casualty in a serious plane crash a couple of months earlier. When flying commenced in January 2001, the service was initially available only one day a week. The East Anglian Air Ambulance now operates two helicopters, 365 days a year, from its bases at Cambridge Airport and Norwich Airport, covering over 5,000 square miles (13,000 km2) and a population of approximately 3.5 million.[2]

East Anglian Air Ambulance
TypeCharitable organisation
Legal statusRegistered Charity No. 1083876
PurposeDedicated helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) provider
Area served
Aircraft operated
2 x Airbus Helicopters H145
Revenue (2020)
£14.8 million[1]
Staff (2020)
Volunteers (2020)


EAAA's mission statement is: "To alleviate suffering and save lives, by the rapid delivery of specialist clinicians and equipment to accidents and medical emergencies and the subsequent transfer of patients to and between hospitals".

The charity provides air ambulance cover for East Anglia, in association with East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, which provides highly skilled critical care paramedics who fly with the charity. Doctors are seconded from their home NHS trusts.


Since April 2015 at Cambridge and February 2016 at Norwich,[3] EAAA have operated Airbus H145 helicopters. The introduction of the H145 provides EAAA with a helicopter that is capable of carrying two flight crew, three clinicians and a patient, with increased cabin space and performance. Anglia One, G-RESU, covers Norfolk and Suffolk and is based at Norwich Airport.[4] Anglia Two, G-HEMC, which was the first H145 to operate in the United Kingdom,[3] covers Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire and is based at Cambridge Airport.[4] Both helicopters, their pilots and engineers are provided by Babcock Mission Critical Services Onshore,[4] formerly known as Bond Air Services.

EAAA's first aircraft was a Bolkow 105, commissioned from Sterling Aviation. The aircraft was based at Norwich Airport and had the call sign 'Anglia One'.

In June 2006, a new helicopter, a MBB/Kawasaki BK 117, G-OEMT, was commissioned from Sterling Aviation. The aircraft replaced the Bolkow 105, G-EYNL, and went into service as Anglia One. In August 2007 and second MBB/Kawasaki BK 117, G-RESC, went into service as Anglia Two.

In March 2011, EAAA changed operator and moved from Sterling Aviation to interim supplier, Bond Air Services. Bond later successfully tendered for the contract to operate both helicopters. During the interim period EAAA flew red aircraft but soon returned to their more familiar yellow livery with the introduction of the Eurocopter EC135.

In 2012, EAAA commissioned the fully night-capable EC135 T2e and commenced the CAA approval process to begin the night HEMS service.


When the service was first launched, Anglia One operated for only one day a week. This was soon expanded to five days a week and later to the current service of seven days a week.

Anglia Two was launched in August 2007 and began operating five days a week (from Sunday to Thursday). The service provided by Anglia Two was extended to seven days a week in 2008. It was manned by the Emergency Medical Team from Magpas Helimedix 24/7,[5] based at RAF Wyton until its move to Cambridge Airport where the charity decided to use its own medical personnel - predominantly doctors specialising in emergency medicine, anaesthesia and/or intensive care medicine from hospitals within the region.

G-HEMC, an Airbus Helicopters H145 completed its first HEMS mission with EAAA on 2 April 2015. This aircraft now operates as Anglia Two at Cambridge Airport

Typical incidents for which the assistance of the air ambulance is requested include road traffic collisions, horse riding accidents, cardiac arrests and serious falls. The EAAA team of highly skilled doctors and critical care paramedics also treat many people injured in agricultural, industrial and sporting accidents as well as medical emergencies.

Airlifted patients are most likely to go to the major trauma centre at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, the specialist burns unit in Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford or the specialist heart attack centre at Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Patients less severely injured, but where travel would take an excessive amount of time, may be airlifted to their local A&E with trauma unit.

In May 2013, EAAA received approval to fly night time HEMS missions. The first team was available and ready to fly on 24 May and was called that night to a traffic collision in Essex. The clinicians were flown to the scene where they treated an injured motorcyclist with the aid of night vision equipment. The patient was then flown back to Cambridge where he was taken to the major trauma centre at Addenbrooke's Hospital.

In 2018, the charity appeared on the Channel 4 TV programme Emergency Helicopter Medics, which follows the crews responding and treating emergency patients.[6]


For the majority of call-outs Anglia One and Two will carry a crew of four; one pilot, one co-pilot, one critical-care paramedic and one doctor.

The EAAA crew with their expertise and training are able to 'take the hospital emergency room to the patient'. The speed in which EAAA helicopters can get the medics to people suffering a medical emergency or accident is critical in ensuring a good recovery for the patient. EAAA can provide at the scene of the incident just about all the procedures that would be expected in a hospital. For that reason, once the EAAA doctor and paramedic crew have treated the patient, it is often safe for them to then travel on to the hospital by road for further treatment. EAAA fly approximately a third of their patients and this is either because of the critical nature of their condition or the remoteness of the incident.

Control decision

The EAAA control centre is located in Chelmsford and is staffed twenty four hours a day, every day of the year by an East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust dispatcher and a critical care paramedic. They know what to look for in an emergency call and can ensure that the helicopter is mobilised when its life saving services are required. The decision is made by the doctor at the scene of the incident as to whether the patient should go by land ambulance, or be flown to hospital on the air ambulance.


The East Anglian Air Ambulance is a charitable service and does not normally receive direct funding from the government. In the year ending June 2020, the charity's income was £14.8 million.[1] Its expenditure was £13.0M, of which £9.7M was spent on operating the air ambulance service.[1] The charity's funding comes from public donations and fundraising activities, including the purchase of weekly lottery tickets, corporate donations and legacy giving. In 2020, it also received two government grants totalling £420,000.[1]

Facts and figures

  • East Anglian Air Ambulance has attended over 22,000 life saving missions since the charity's first aircraft was launched in 2000[clarification needed]
  • The average cost of each mission flown as of 20142015 financial accounts is £3,500
  • The normal cruising speed for an EAAA helicopter is 137 knots (158 mph; 254 km/h) and they can reach anywhere in the region within 25 minutes
  • Prince William, Duke of Cambridge trained as a civilian helicopter pilot in late 2014,[7] so that he could work as pilot with East Anglian Air Ambulance from 2015 to 2017. His salary was donated to charity.

Pre-hospital care network in the East of England

This charity is one of many pre-hospital care providers in the East, which has an established trauma network – the first to be fully operational in the UK.

Other pre-hospital care providers that they work and train alongside are:

The East of England teams commonly end up working alongside crews from Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance, London's Air Ambulance and The Air Ambulance Service, along with other BASICS charities.

See also


  1. "Charity overview: East Anglian Air Ambulance". Charity Commission for England and Wales. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  2. "East Anglian Air Ambulance – About Us". Archived from the original on 23 July 2008. Retrieved 6 June 2008.
  3. "UK's first H145 saves lives with East Anglian Air Ambulance". Airbus Helicopters. 22 April 2015. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  4. "Our H145 Helicopters". East Anglian Air Ambulance. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  5. Lift off for Bedfordshire Air Ambulance, East of England Ambulance Service, archived from the original on 11 November 2010, retrieved 18 October 2010
  6. "East Anglian Air Ambulance to star in new TV documentary - East Anglian Air Ambulance". East Anglian Air Ambulance. 5 April 2018. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  7. "Britain's Prince William to return to work as air ambulance pilot]". ABC News Online. 8 August 2014. Retrieved 31 December 2020.