|Purpose||To relieve sick and injured people in South East England and surrounding areas by providing a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) and Air Ambulance Service for the benefit of the community.|
The Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex is an organisation providing emergency medical services through the provision of a helicopter air ambulance covering the three English counties of Kent, Surrey and Sussex which are served by the South East Coast Ambulance Service. The helicopters are funded by the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance Trust (KSSAAT) which is a registered charity, raising money from public and private donations in excess of £14 million every year.
The trust currently operates two helicopters, both AgustaWestland AW169 G-KSST since 2017 and G-KSSC since 2018. Three previous MD 902 Explorers (G-KAAT, G-KSSH and G-KSSH) served the trust throughout the 2000s. The helicopters can fly at nearly 150 mph (130 kn; 240 km/h), making all areas of the three counties accessible within a 20-minute flight.
The service supplements the existing air ambulance service provided Sussex Police Air Operations Unit, the helicopter run jointly by Sussex Police and South East Coast Ambulance Service. The operation also has a rapid response car for the crew to use in the event that the helicopter is grounded for any reason. This vehicle was donated in May 2009 by Sussex Police, having formerly been one of their traffic patrol vehicles.
In 2017, one of the trust's two MD Explorer helicopters (G-KAAT) was retired after over 17 years of service for the trust and replaced by a new AgustaWestland 169 helicopter capable of night time flights, giving the trust a 24-hour capability.
In 2018, a second AW169 (G-KSSC) entered service, replacing the ageing MD902. This caused the service to move one of its bases to Rochester Airport, to accommodate the larger helicopter, alongside the existing base at Redhill Aerodrome. The arrival of the new AW169 promoted the rebranding and name change of the charity.
The Kent Air Ambulance Trust became a registered charity established in 1989, serving only Kent. The trust was founded by Kate Chivers, and was originally called the South East Thames Air Ambulance. It initially operated on a part-time basis, but became a seven-day service in January 2000. Shortly afterwards it moved from Rochester Airport to a new base at Marden near Maidstone.
The MD 902, G-SUSX, was crewed by a pilot, a Sussex Police air observer, who was a fully sworn constable (or sergeant) and a paramedic seconded from South East Coast Ambulance Service, who was also trained as an air observer.
Under the now KSSAAT, the Sussex-based helicopter also served Surrey - creating Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex.
The trust's mission statement is: "relieve sick and injured people in south east England and surrounding areas by providing a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) and Air Ambulance Service for the benefit of the community". The trust provides air ambulance cover for the entire county, in association with the South East Coast Ambulance Service, who provide the paramedics that fly with the trust on secondment.
The trust receives no funding from any government body, instead relying on voluntary donations to meet its running costs.
According to the charity's official website, they have attended over 25,000 incidents since their inception in 1989.