We have celebrated 10 years of life-saving flights at night by welcoming over 260 people to our charity’s very first Heli Hike at Night event at Mote Park, Maidstone.
Participants dressed for the occasion by donning glow accessories and face paints as well as carrying torches to light the way. Despite the rain, spirits remained high throughout the evening, with walkers wearing a variety of hi-viz gear and hats to providing an exciting splash of colour.
One of our rapid response vehicles was at the event to light up the finish area with its flashing blue lights, as our crew members welcomed hikers across the line and presented them with well-deserved finisher medals.
Supporters could choose between a 2.5 mile or 5-mile loop around Mote Park, one of over 180 known sites across the region where our helicopters are able to land at night.
Heli Hike at Night was the finale of the our series of four Heli Hikes events across Kent, Surrey and Sussex which have so far raised over £50,000 to help us continue our life-saving work.
Lauren Simmons, our Head of Events, said: “The event celebrated the fact that for a decade our dedicated crews have been flying 24/7, 365 days a year, to deliver life-saving care wherever and whenever it is urgently needed.
“Team KSS would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who supported our Heli Hikes. We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the communities we serve, and it was great to see so many people attending these vital fundraising events.”
In 2013 we became the first Air Ambulance in the country to provide a 24/7 helicopter service all year round when a team flew to a patient involved in a road traffic collision near Canterbury, treated them and accompanied them to hospital.
Since then, we have carried out more than 4,000 missions by helicopter at night, treating over 2,000 patients.
In that time KSS aircraft have flown approximately a quarter of a million miles at night, equivalent to flying around the Earth 11 times or travelling to the Moon.
Our pilots and clinical teams use military-grade night vision goggles when operating at night. Google Earth is used to help select landing sites, as well as specialist mapping systems which show where hazards such as overhead wires or covered reservoirs are located.
There are over 180 sites known that are safe to be used at night, covering most towns and villages in Kent, Surrey and Sussex. These are as big as possible, with a minimal slope, good surface and good access in and out to enable the crew to bring a patient back safely to the aircraft.