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Agusta 109 boosts air ambulance capacity to provide year-round service
Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance service in the U.K. has taken delivery of a second Agusta 109 power EMS helicopter at Coventry Baginton Airport. The new light twin turbine helicopter will allow the service to operate 365 days a year. Both aircraft are leased to WNAA by Sloane Helicopters, based nearby at Sywell Aerodrome. Whenever the new Agusta 109 is out of service, Sloane will make the original available. Television star and former singer Billie Piper joined in the service's joint celebration of its new aircraft delivery and its third anniversary. Service spokesperson Carole Scott says that the 109's design makes it an ideal emergency vehicle, with one longitudinally loaded litter and the facility to fold down a seat to take a second full length litter. It can also carry two or three medical crew.

Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance service in the U.K. has taken delivery of a second Agusta 109 power EMS helicopter at Coventry Baginton Airport.

The new light twin turbine helicopter will allow the service to operate 365 days a year. Both aircraft are leased to WNAA by Sloane Helicopters, based nearby at Sywell Aerodrome. Whenever the new Agusta 109 is out of service, Sloane will make the original available.

Television star and former singer Billie Piper joined in the service's joint celebration of its new aircraft delivery and its third anniversary.

Service spokesperson Carole Scott says that the 109's design makes it an ideal emergency vehicle, with one longitudinally loaded litter and the facility to fold down a seat to take a second full length litter. It can also carry two or three medical crew.

This makes it possible for two seriously injured people to be transported in a fully horizontal position and undergo emergency treatment in transit if necessary.

The service says it is one of only three in England that is equipped to carry out lifesaving procedures on-

site and while airborne, always carrying a doctor and at least one paramedic on board. As a result, WNAA is also one the UK's busiest air ambulance services, attending between 120 and 150 incidents a month and covering more than 2,000 square miles. Although most of the incidents are road traffic accidents, the service deals with a range of medical emergencies.

For organ transplant flights the helicopter can be configured to provide up to six seats plus ample space for carrying transplant cases and equipment. It is also fast, with a cruise speed of 180 mph.

"On one Sunday recently the crew flew 15 missions," says Scott. "It is a highly specialised crew. The pilot will help by carrying some vital medical kit, and the medical crew need some flight training. They need to be able to help direct the pilot into some pretty tight landing spots".

Financial tight spots also have to be negotiated. The service is a registered charity that receives no government or lottery funding and needs around #1.4m a year to run with each mission costing between #800 and #900.