Magpas Ready To Take To The Skies Once More

PUBLISHED: 10:55 18 January 2011

Magpas helicopter

Magpas helicopter

Archant

What is less clear is what the future would be if cost-cutting measures led to Cambridgeshire police having to share air cover with a neighbouring force.

WHEN Cambridgeshire police’s helicopter returns to the air this week it will be with the St Ives-based emergency medical charity Magpas on board.

The helicopter, which has been undergoing major servicing since Christmas, will be branded with the Magpas logo when it returns to its base at RAF Wyton.

The charity has had an agreement to use the police helicopter since the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) charity appointed a commercial medical and paramedic company to replace Magpas volunteers on board and move the helicopter to Cambridge Airport last month.

The move has prompted an increasingly-strident ‘air ambulance war’ since then, with the two charities competing fiercely for media exposure. Both are funded solely by voluntary donations.

In spite of EAAA’s having appointed a Suffolk-based PR company to promote its activities, Magpas, which started life as the road-based Mid-Anglia General Practitioner Accident Service more than 30 years ago, seems to have established itself firmly in the public’s affection.

Its ‘One in a million’ appeal, aimed at raising £1million a year to keep the volunteer medics in the air, has already raised £30,000, and there are talks with potential commercial sponsors.

In the short-term, the deal with the police, which involves Magpas paying the fuel bill when it uses the helicopter, as well as a time-based charge, will last for at least a year. What is less clear is what the future would be if cost-cutting measures led to Cambridgeshire police having to share air cover with a neighbouring force.

Magpas will be using police helicopter, which has night-vision equipment, 24 hours a day and seven days a week so that its medical teams can be airborne and availble day or night – a facility the EAAA does not have.

“Statistically, more incidents occur at night,” a Magpas spokesman said.

EAAA has to raise £3m a year to run its two emergency service helicopters.

INFO: See www.angliaone.org.uk and www.magpas.org.uk

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