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How we’re dispatched

With a fleet of helicopters and rapid response vehicles (RRVs), we’re available 24-7 to reach people in need across Essex and Hertfordshire.

How we’re dispatched

How we’re dispatched

Essex & Herts Air Ambulance brings the hospital to the patient, and on average, our critical care teams are dispatched six times per day. Our highly skilled crews consist of a pilot, a co-pilot, a pre-hospital care doctor and a critical care paramedic, enabling life-saving procedures to start at the earliest opportunity.

How are we activated?

We are activated by the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST), which covers Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

999 calls come in from across the region and are answered and triaged by call takers. At the same time, they get assessed by a critical care paramedic and a dedicated dispatcher working together on the critical care desk based in the EEAST emergency operation centre in Chelmsford. They are looking for any call that a pre-hospital critical care team can make a difference to.

On occasion, neighbouring ambulance services may request EHAAT attendance for mutual support through the critical care desk. This request could be to assist at large-scale incidents or due to the unavailability of the local critical care team.

EHAAT’s critical care team is routinely activated in one of three ways. You can learn more about this below.

Emergency dispatched call centre

Critical Care Team Dispatch Process



The critical care paramedic on duty or the EEAST critical care desk monitors incoming 999 calls. They identify patients who would benefit from an advanced level of care, by listening to the 999 call, talking to the caller or talking to the ambulance crew on scene. They then dispatch the nearest available critical care team.



An EHAAT pre-hospital care team is activated immediately, by the critical care paramedic on duty at the EEAST critical care desk, to trauma incidents such as falls from height, serious road traffic collisions or specific medical emergencies, or which the advanced level of care they provide would benefit the patient.


Ambulance crew request

Having assessed the patient and realising that they would benefit from an advanced level of care, a land ambulance crew liaise with EEAST critical care desk requesting the assistance of an EHAAT critical care team

Our rapid response

The MD902 Explorer based at Earls Colne can reach the farthest point in Essex in less than 20 minutes, and the AW169 based at North Weald can reach the farthest point in Hertfordshire in less than 15 minutes. The team switch to using a rapid response vehicle (RRV) before sunrise, after sunset or when the helicopter is unable to fly because of poor weather or maintenance.

Fleet portrait RRVs and helicopters
helicopter maps - view from the pilot

Every second counts…

The helicopters and RRVs enable our crew to reach patients with serious illness or injury caused by such incidents as traffic collisions, falls from height, heart attacks, stabbings, cardiac arrests and strokes. Once a patient is stabilised, the critical care team will triage patients to the most appropriate hospital if they require specialist care. This may save vital minutes between the onset of illness or the time of an accident to the patient receiving specialist medical care in hospital.

Hospitals we fly to regularly:

Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge

Major Trauma Centre
For patients who have sustained severe or multiple trauma.

Basildon University Hospital, Basildon

Cardio-Thoracic Centre (specialist hospital)
For patients who have suffered heart attacks.

Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford

Specialist Burns Centre (specialist hospital)
The only specialist burns centre in the East of England

Colchester General Hospital, Colchester

General Emergency Department

Ipswich Hospital, Ipswich

General Emergency Department

Lister Hospital, Stevenage

General Emergency Department
Particularly for patients who have suffered heart attacks.

Luton & Dunstable Hospital, Luton

General Emergency Department

Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow

General Emergency Department

Queen's Hospital, Romford

Specialist Neuro-Centre (specialist hospital)
For patients suffering acute neurological emergencies and head or spinal injuries,

The Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel

Major Trauma Centre
For patients who have sustained severe or multiple trauma.