Safety fears ground two air ambulances
TWO helicopters providing urgent medical transportation to seriously injured people in Cambridgeshire have been grounded over safety fears.
The East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) was yesterday informed its two Eurocopter EC135S would have to be grounded temporarily as a precautionary measure after a defect was discovered in three similar aircraft.
All EC135S operated by Bond Air Services nationally - which includes a large part of the country’s air ambulance fleet such as those in Scotland, the North West and the Midlands - are included in the flight ban.
It follows the discovery of three instances of cracks – out of 1,000 aircraft worldwide – developing in a piece of equipment known as the “flange”, which is located below the rotor blades.
A statement from (EAAA) said: “Although there is no evidence of this on either EAAA aircraft, our operator Bond Air Service has taken the precaution to ground its fleet of EC135S pending further investigation – a policy that the EAAA entirely support for safety reasons.
“Local people in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk remain covered with emergency medical assistance by our colleagues at the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust.
“Bond Air Services is awaiting further advice from Eurocopter, the manufacturer of the aircraft, once investigations to identify the cause of the cracks have been carried out.
“Our own crews of specialist doctor and EEAST critical care paramedic are continuing to provide emergency cover from our rapid response vehicles.”
The county will still have medical helicopter cover from Magpas, the emergency medical charity which runs a Helimedix team, as well as by the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance.
The charity currently uses a Bolkow 105 helicopter but in the next couple of weeks will be acquiring an MD 902 chopper.
Magpas spokeswoman Antonia Brickell said: “We will continue to provide enhanced medical care across the county.
“It’s important to note that in 99 per cent of cases attended by an air ambulance, the patient will be taken by land ambulance as there is more room and it is far easier to carry out critical care.
“The important thing about the helicopter is to transport skilled medics to the patient quickly. The helicopter is of not as much use if you don’t have the team on it to save a life.”
GROUNDED: One of the Eurocopter EC135S used by the East Anglian Air Ambulance.