A NEW helicopter chosen by Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance will carry out medical rescues faster than ever.

After rigorous testing by the charity, the AW169 twin-engine light intermediate helicopter will start operations from its base at Henstridge on the Dorset/Somerset border in 2016.

Thanks to its maximum cruise speed it will be able to transport patients from across the two counties to lifesaving treatment at hospitals and major trauma centres even more rapidly. Bill Sivewright, the charity’s CEO, said: “Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance’s vision for the future assumes one of clinical excellence.

“The capability and flexibility offered by the AW169 made it a clear winner in our selection process. We’re looking forward to when we can start operating this fantastic helicopter.”

The new helicopter, provided by Anglo-Italian helicopter company AugustaWestland, can accommodate up to two stretchers and will be equipped to provide advanced patient care, including life support.

Cockpit technology includes safety systems such as airborne collision avoidance.