A trio of innovations to protect crew from coronavirus has meant Devon Air Ambulance can take to the skies again.
The lifesaving aircraft are now equipped with a ‘separation screen’ to partition pilots from paramedics and patients.
A throat microphone that can be worn with protective face masks and a bracket to allow a full-face visor to be fitted to an aviation helmet have also been devised.
The charity’s two choppers were temporarily grounded in March, but bosses say they are now back in action as part of a ‘phased reintroduction’.
Paramedics will still be responding to patients by critical care car until 2am.
Exeter-based aircraft will be responding to emergencies from 7am to dusk.
A Devon Air Ambulance spokesperson said: “As a first step, we will be deploying to patients by air, treating them on scene and then assisting local crews to convey patients to hospital by land ambulance
“Over the coming days and weeks, we will progressively increase our scope of operations as we carry out a phased reintroduction of our service.”
Charity chiefs say one of the ‘key stages’ in the process will be when it begins to convey patients who potentially have Covid-19.
A separation screen has been installed between the front and rear sections of the aircraft, sealing-off the pilot cockpit and the patient and paramedic area.
The newly-designed throat microphone and bracket to allow for full-face visors on safety helmets will further protect crew during procedures where they are at extra risk.
The spokesperson added: “Our ability to restart air operations is a result of concerted efforts by the aviation industry and regulators and it’s been inspiring to see the different organisations pull together to collaborate, innovate and drive the development of sustainable solutions.
“Each of these new developments has involved a distinct package of work starting with prototype design and development, first-build and initial trials, to final production with approval from EU and UK aviation authorities.”