FLYING lifesavers at Midlands Air Ambulance are celebrating the purchase of a new helicopter, which will enable the charity to extend its services to night time flights.

The charity, which is this year celebrating its 21st anniversary, has responded to over 38,000 missions since its launch in 1991, making it the busiest air ambulance operator in England and Wales.

Now staff at its Brierley Hill -based HQ have announced the replacement of one of its current three helicopters with a state-of-the-art chopper, which will have the capability of night flying.

The helicopter is set to be ready for use from September 2013 after trials indicated a need for a night time service for serious trauma injuries across the region. However the extended service is anticipated to cost the charity a further £1.6 million a year and fundraising is already underway to boost coffers.

Hanna Sebright, chief executive of Midlands Air Ambulance, who announced the news this week to coincide with National Air Ambulance Week, said “The purchase of our first new aircraft marks another significant milestone in our history. I cannot emphasize strongly enough; none of this would have been possible without the support of the public that support our life saving service.

“We are very proud of the relationship Midlands Air Ambulance has with West Midlands Ambulance Service and together we provide a gold standard life saving service that is the busiest Air Ambulance operation in England and Wales. With the on-going support of the public across our region, we will continue look at new and innovative ways to provide the very best in patient care in situations of major trauma”.