Hepple WI, November meeting

FLYING HIGH: Members of Hepple WI enjoyed an illustrated talk by the Great North Air Ambulance at their November meeting.

The air ambulance has its controlling centre at Tees Valley Airport, and currently has two helicopters, one based in Penrith and the other at Teesside. They are presently in the process of buying a third helicopter.

At its own choice, the air ambulance is not government-funded, but is funded by charitable donations. Its biggest donor is its separate trading company, which deals with collecting bags for old clothes, etc. This company gives its entire profits to the charity, and this donation alone covers all the administration and wages costs for the air ambulance.

The helicopters cost £15million to buy, and to fill one tank full of fuel costs £400. This amount of fuel covers 1 hour 45 minutes of flying time, or the equivalent of covering 450 miles.

A helicopter is staffed by a pilot and either two paramedics, or one paramedic and one doctor. Its aim is always to get the casualty to the right hospital in the quickest possible time, and time and again lives are saved because of the speed of its response.

The competition for the evening for an old toy was won by Vivien Masterton, with Barbara Hunter second, and Joan Storey third.