Just a little over a month ago, the Great North Air Ambulance Service’s (GNAAS) new helicopter was welcomed with cheers and applause when she landed at home in Cumbria for the very first time.
Fast forward a few weeks and the new Pride of Cumbria II aircraft has already completed 55 missions around the patch meaning lives saved and families kept together.
The Dauphin N3 is based at GNAAS’ base in Langwathby near Penrith and will enable the charity’s critical care team to reach even more patients across the region thanks to its upgraded power and versatility.
In her first weekend of service, the Pride of Cumbria II, which is expected to serve the county for around 15 years, was able to travel to three consecutive incidents in Cumbria, Scotland and Northumberland before needing to refuel – something that would never have been possible in the previous aircraft.
GNAAS doctor, Angus Mitchell said: “We’ve definitely seen things pick up the past month, so it really is great that we’ve had the new aircraft there and ready for those that need it most. At this extremely busy time of year in Cumbria the new helicopter is definitely being put to good use.
“The arrival of the Pride of Cumbria II is overdue and everyone I have spoken to has said we’re set to be busier than ever this summer especially if this weather continues.”
The first patient of Cumbria’s new air ambulance survived thanks to his bike helmet, according to his dad.
Dale Clark, 14, of Blindcrake, near Cockermouth, was airlifted by GNAAS’ Pride of Cumbria II aircraft just hours after the helicopter began work in the county.
This was the first of ten incidents the helicopter attended over the bank holiday weekend in May after starting work and since then, the team has had a further 54 jobs on the new aircraft.
GNAAS pilot, Phil Lambert said: “The new aircraft is great to fly and 100% making a difference because at least twice a week we’re flying to three jobs one after another.
“When I first started flying the new helicopter, it was a bit like a new car and I had to learn where everything was but now I am used to it – it’s so powerful.”
Phil added: “I live in the lakes and I can already see how busier everywhere is. It’s set to be a busy summer and we can already see a huge difference in the number of incidents we’re attending.”
On the same weekend that the Pride of Cumbria II began work, the charity also launched a night-time service in Cumbria to cover 24 hours a day on both Friday and Saturday. Read more about the new expanded merit service here.