IT is larger, faster and can make the ultimate difference in saving an injured person’s life.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance has launched its new aircraft, which will help save even more lives across the south.

Replacing the 33-year-old helicopter previously used by the charity, the new Eurocopter EC135 can allow paramedics and doctors to give more treatment on route to hospital within its larger cabin.

Unveiling the new aircraft at Beaulieu Motor Museum, charity chief executive John Perry explained how the helicopter will make emergency calls safer and speedier.

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This will include loading patients in through a side door instead of a small tunnel entrance at the back.

“It will help save lives because we can react slightly more quickly. We can also carry an extra doctor or paramedic on board,” he said.

The new aircraft can also fly in cloudy skies and at night with radar. Despite aviation rules preventing rescues outside daylight hours, the service says it plans to use the larger helicopter for patient transfers between airports in Southampton and Plymouth where they can land safely at night.

Joining rescue crews for the launch, was charity volunteer Lisa Benham, from Winchester, who was saved by the air ambulance a month after it first took to the air in July 2007.

Lisa, 40, was rescued from a traffic accident when her vehicle rolled into her a ditch, trapping her right arm underneath the car.

A familiar face with the paramedics who saved her and took her to hospital, Lisa said she now volunteers for the charity after being part of the work they do.

For more information about the charity and its work you can visit the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance website (see Related Links below).