THANKS to overwhelming public support, Devon's second wholly owned Air Ambulance arrived on July 31 and will be making a series of drop-in visits across the county before it goes into service on September 1.
The tour will serve to help aircrew familiarise themselves with the bespoke designed emergency aircraft and to give as many people as possible the chance to see the new helicopter at close quarters and meet the crew.
Of 14 locations across Devon, it will be at Kingsbridge Cricket Club on Tuesday August 13 at 12.30pm and at Paignton Cricket Club at 2.30pm on the same day.
The EC135 helicopter, registration G-DAAN, will be based at Eaglescott Airfield, Umberleigh, but, like sister aircraft G-DVAA based in Exeter, it will serve the whole county and be able to reach almost all the county within 15 minutes.
Local patients Linzie Reason and Thomas Darville know only too well how important this vital service is.
Linzie was needed an urgent transfer after she was rushed into intensive care in Exeter with liver and kidney failure. Thankfully Devon Air Ambulance was on hand to take her to Kings College in London for specialist treatment.
Thomas also needed specialist treatment for burns and was taken to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol after he dislodged a freshly poured cup of tea, scalding his chest.
Happily, Thomas, only 15 months old at the time, has made an excellent recovery. Devon Air Ambulance attended 10 missions in Exeter and the surrounding area in June alone.
Heléna Holt, chief executive of Devon Air Ambulance Trust (DAAT), said: "The month between taking ownership and going into service is needed to ensure that we have plenty of time for all the aircrew to become familiar with the new aircraft and we quickly realised this gave us a great opportunity to show it off to the real people who have made it possible: the people of Devon!"
Nigel Hare, operations director for the trust, explained how buying instead of leasing the aircraft saves the trust in the region of £12,000 per month per helicopter, which they are planning to invest in extending operating hours and further clinical skills training for the crew.
He said: "It has also given us a unique opportunity to develop a fully customised solution designed to meet the specific needs of Devon and facilitate the best patient care possible, as well as providing a safe and reliable working environment for our crews."
Heléna Holt added: "We are immensely grateful for the unstinting support of the people of Devon and all the communities that have raised money to help us acquire this aircraft and to BBC Radio Devon for the special Air Ambulance appeal that contributed so much towards this project.
"The new helicopter symbolises our commitment to continuous improvement to our service for which we need to raise over £4.5 million every year.
"Our next task will be to further extend flying hours and I hope the arrival of G-DAAN will inspire everyone to make a donation to DAAT no matter how small so that we can continue helping those most in need."