Cornwall Air Ambulance Not For Sale

“The Cornwall Air Ambulance is now, and will always be, funded by the people of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, for the people of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.”

That is the message from the charity’s Chief Executive Paula Martin following the news that other rescue contracts in the region have been handed to Bristow, an American company with a UK base in Aberdeen.

The story broke on Tuesday March 26 that the search and rescue (SAR) operation based at RNAS Culdrose will move to Newquay and the other regional SAR base at RAF Chivenor is going to close altogether.

“It is unfortunate that the news came out within days of our own service improvement announcement which will see two brand new air ambulances serving Cornwall and Isles of Scilly plus the introduction of night time flights from December 2014.

“We have been inundated with confused people coming into the charity shops concerned that we had been taken over by Bristow as part of the SAR contract.

“I would like to reassure people that we are and always will be, an independent charity, funded by and for the people of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.”

“The two operations are quite different, we rely on the generosity of the public for donations and they are funded by central government.

“Operationally search and rescue uses very large helicopters equipped with winches.

“They are traditionally called upon for large scale missions at sea and around the coast, as well as mountain rescues and searches.

“We on the other hand provide vital, air based, rapid response paramedic and ambulance services to Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.

“SAR also covers a huge geographical area from Cornwall and can be deployed anywhere in the UK whereas we are here just for the people of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.

“Obviously there are similarities between the two operations, we both use helicopters for a start, but we can ‘launch and land’ far quicker than the big aircraft and also set down in really confined spaces that the larger aircraft can’t.

“We have enjoyed a really close relationship with the SARs teams over the years and see no reason why that shouldn’t continue with the new operators of the service, but we are independent and we do fulfil quite different functions.”