A large number of charities are continuing to do important and amazing work during the current COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.
From providing vital support in communities to providing emergency medical treatment to save lives, many charities are continuing their work through the Coronavirus pandemic, but for some, this is becoming an increasingly difficult task.
East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA), the air ambulance charity serving the East region, is still flying and saving lives, but has told us that the cost of keeping its crews safe has been significant. The charity has had to quickly adapt its operating procedures and source large amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to keep its two critical care teams safe and able to support the region’s emergency services. According to the charity, the estimated cost of acquiring the additional PPE now required over a six-month period is over £100,000.
That’s why the charity, along with many other charities operating both locally, regionally and nationally, has launched an emergency appeal for donations – for EAAA its needed to help fund the PPE, which is protecting its crews and keeping the air ambulance teams safe. More than £25,000 of unbudgeted funds has already been spent on items such as respirators, high-protection masks, visors, suits, gowns and goggles to protect the doctors and critical care paramedics who are working in the pre-hospital environment.
Caption: Critical care Paramedic Sam Sweeney and right, Critical Care Paramedic Nigel Strange and Doctor Rishi Rallan demonstrate the PPE they now need to wear
The charity says it has also had to source different filters for its life-saving equipment to prevent contamination, and large amounts of medical cleaning wipes which are proven to kill the virus, so that they can deep-clean equipment between missions.
Richard Hindson, Head of Operations at East Anglian Air Ambulance, said;
“At a time like this we can’t take any chances with the safety of our crews, but we also need to be able to provide the same level of care for our patients. The equipment we now need to operate safely is a huge unforeseen cost that simply hasn’t been budgeted for, but we can’t send our crews out without it.
“We understand people are struggling at home too and may not feel as secure about their income, but we need support now more than ever, from those who feel able to give it, to protect our crews and keep our service operating safely. Please donate what you can to help.”
While many people are staying at home amid the lockdown, there are still medical emergencies that take place, such as road traffic collisions, falls, accidental injuries and cardiac arrests, which require the community-funded helicopter emergency medical service to quickly provide critical care by taking the A&E department to the patient. In March this year, the charity attended 178 missions and treated 111 patients – showing a clear need for its services.
The charity, which has two helicopters and covers areas including Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk has a fundraising target of £13 million to continue their life-saving service this year and needs to raise an additional £1m a year to fund a planned 24/7 service.
Charities are playing a vital role during the Coronavirus lockdown, offering mental health support, medical help, and some have changed their purposes to help vulnerable people needing support during self-isolation. Mr Hindson from EAAA said;
“The way in which we operate has had to change so much, incredibly quickly, but our crews have been amazing and are still out there every day, not knowing what they might come into contact with once they get to scene.
“We’ve had to adapt all of our procedures to protect against this virus, right down to introducing new criteria for which patients we can transfer by air to hospital, but we’re proud to still be able to be there for the patients who need us and to support the other emergency services. With community support now, we can make sure we’re still there for our patients next month and next year, too.”
Charities including EAAA often get no regular funds from the government and are primarily funded by community donations. During the lockdown, many charities are still at work helping others, but they also need help and support from the public.
To donate to the EAAA’s PPE appeal, text PPE 5 to 70085 to donate £5 or visit www.eaaa.org.uk/PPE
Photos and Video Credit: East Anglian Air Ambulance