Race against time to raise £1m for Air Ambulance Charity Kent Surrey Sussex to buy helicopter and save lives

It’s a race against time to raise £1million for Air Ambulance Charity (KSS) to buy its helicopter – and the call has gone out for help as every penny and every second counts.

Air Ambulance Charity Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS) has a target of £1m to reach before the end of May, so that it can buy its air ambulance helicopter which it currently only leases.

The cost of leasing the helicopter has increased significantly, and owning it outright would save the charity around half a million pounds annually – money that could be better spent on improving the service. This means it could fly for six more hours every day, as well as fly in more adverse weather conditions, enabling it to reach more patients and save more lives. It will also allow the charity to further develop its patient and family aftercare service and prevention and education activities.

Care in the air and at the scene

KSS is part of the region’s frontline emergency services, but it is a charity. So it relies on public support to be able to continue its lifesaving work.

We take the emergency room to the patient; flying our lifesaving critical care to the patient at the scene of their serious injury or illness. Our specialist doctors and paramedics, and the equipment we carry on board, enable us to save lives when seconds count, delivering treatment including emergency anaesthesia, heart surgery and blood transfusions.

David Welch, Chief Executive of KSS

Speed is a key element with critical injury or illness and the helicopter can get the crew to the patient quickly to perform lifesaving care on scene, before flying them onwards to hospital, in a fraction of the time it would take an ambulance on busy roads. An air ambulance dispatcher sits in the 999 emergency control room and will task KSS to the most seriously injured or ill patients across the region, on average around  nine incidents a day.

The helicopter is fully equipped and ideal for performing treatment in the air – with 360 degree access to the patient - meaning more care can be provided in flight, reducing the amount of time taken to get the patient to definitive hospital care.

Saving Lives

The Sussex numbers

In 2023, KSS responded to 3,328 incidents and 29% of those were in Sussex. As many as 1,910 of those missions were by helicopter with 580 made in Sussex.

David Welch added: “Demand for our service has been growing year-on-year and has never been greater.

“Owning rather than leasing our air ambulance will secure the future of our helicopter and allow us to increase the number of hours we can fly every day, as well as continue to improve and innovate our lifesaving care. This will mean that we can reach even more patients and save even more lives. But we only have until the end of May to raise the funds as it is a time-limited window in our new contract with our aviation partner.

“For your community. For your family. For your friends. Please help buy our air ambulance helicopter so that when the worst happens, we can keep even more families and loved ones together.”

A story of survival

Chris Pounds, from Tonbridge in Kent, was crushed by a tractor when working miles from anywhere. He managed to call 999 and  KSS was dispatched to fight for his life.

He said: “It was the medical intervention that they brought to me, lying in a field in the grass with crush injuries that saved my life. If the air ambulance hadn’t got there I wouldn’t have survived, it’s as simple as that.

“We never know in our daily lives what is going to happen. We wake up, go to work, do the things we are going to do. But there may be a time when we, a loved one, a friend, a child, needs that intervention. The help that KSS brings is beyond what you would normally get. Situations change in seconds and to have the air ambulance to support people across Kent, Surrey and Sussex is a godsend and something we all really need to support.”

Donate now – and get your name on the chopper!

There is a limited window of opportunity to purchase the helicopter and the charity needs to raise the £1m by the end of May.

People can donate in various ways including via the website or over the phone.

Anyone who gives £100 or over has the option to have their name on the   helicopter, meaning they can be a part of every mission

To make a donation to the Buy it for Life Appeal visit the website here or phone 0330 002 1842. Phone lines are open 9am-4pm Monday to Friday.