Our Timeline

Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex
Timeline of a life-saving charity...


Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex has attended over 30,000 incidents since its inception in 1989.

We are committed to providing the highest quality of care to our patients and ensuring our life-saving service is available to as many people as possible, regardless of the time of day.

Autumn 1989
The air ambulance was launched.
The potential was realised when our first patient, Michelle Leather, who was sixteen years old at the time and lived near Tenterden, was flown to the William Harvey Hospital, Ashford and was receiving treatment within seven minutes of being released by the South East Thames Air Ambulance team, as they were known then. Michelle’s and countless further lives have been saved, their quality of life and chances of survival improved due to our presence, skills and speed of response.


Spring 2000
Kent Air Ambulance Trust prepared to move to a purpose-built facility in Marden and received our MD 902 Explorer G-KAAT. This new model had a bigger cabin in which to work. It also had extra safety aspects such as no tail rotor, enabling our crew to land in smaller spaces.



Autumn 2005
A clinical trial commenced to formally record the value of carrying doctors on board.
This meant we could bring A&E to the patient. It also enabled crucial diagnosis to be made at the scene of the incident and if necessary transfer patients to a hospital with a specialist unit to best deal with the injuries sustained.



Spring 2006
The introduction of a dedicated Helicopter Emergency Medical Service desk at Ambulance Control, staffed by one of the charity’s own crew, allowed the air ambulance to focus on the most relevant medical emergencies and increase these positive outcomes.

Summer 2007
The Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance was launched from Dunsfold Park, situated on the Surrey and West Sussex border.This was a significant move forward. If two emergencies were to happen at different ends of Kent, it would be possible to draft in the Surrey and Sussex helicopter, if the Kent helicopter was already attending one of the incidents, and vice versa.

Autumn 2012
Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance Trust established a program of audit, research and development to ensure the latest medical interventions are being effectively used.
Research projects included airway management, cardiac arrest, night air ambulance operations and patient outcomes.

Spring 2013
Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance Trust became the first in the country to start carrying blood to perform transfusions at the scene of an accident or medical emergency.
Because of this, we are seeing more patients delivered to hospital who may not have previously survived.

Autumn 2013
Our research and preparatory work clearly indicated a patient need for the service by night. The CAA regulations changed to allow suitably equipped Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) aircraft to make ad hoc landings at night, when responding to emergencies. By moving operations from Dunsfold to Redhill Aerodrome, and with a new night capable aircraft, the first 24-hour HEMS service in the UK was launched.

The Future!
Our experience of night flying operations and our increasing daytime workload has shown us that a more capable aircraft is required to answer patient needs. The AW 169 has a larger cabin space, an extra 400kg (approximately) of available lift, and has a greater endurance which makes us less reliant on ‘fuel stops’; vital for night operations.

Nigel Barclay

“If it wasn’t for the treatment I received at the scene of my accident, and the fast transportation to a London hospital, I would not be here today....”

Family man...

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