Our History

Where did we come from?

Magpas Air Ambulance is one of the UK’s oldest emergency medical charities, established in 1971. The charity was founded by two GPs from Cambridgeshire, Dr Neville Silverston MBE and Dr Derek Cracknell MBE.

Following a visit to see a similar service in North Yorkshire, Dr Silverston had been inspired to create a voluntary service of family GPs in Cambridgeshire who could support the ambulance service in helping the victims of road accidents.

With the help of Dr Cracknell, together they founded the Mid Anglia General Practitioner Accident Service (MAGPAS), named after the geographical area covered by the Mid Anglia Constabulary (now Cambridgeshire Constabulary).

Dr Silverston and Dr Cracknell recruited a network of over 100 GPs around Cambridgeshire who could be called upon, day or night, to treat patients at the scene of road accidents. At the time, the ambulance service offered little medical treatment and sought to get the patient to hospital as quickly as possible. By Magpas bringing medical care to the scene of an accident, the patient had a much better chance of survival and impact of their injuries was reduced – an idea which remains at the heart of our service today.

Where we are today

Over the following four decades Magpas was instrumental in developing medical training and immediate care schemes across the country.

From 1997 the charity was also able to attend incidents by air, using the Cambridgeshire Police helicopter from RAF Wyton, near Huntingdon. In 2013 we acquired our own orange helicopter and are now known as Magpas Air Ambulance. We are proud to have treated over 60,000 patients since our founding in 1971.

Today our medical team combines the skills of a doctor and paramedic together on every shift. Our doctors are no longer GPs but are instead specialists in emergency medicine and our critical care paramedics are highly trained experts with significant experience in immediate care.

By bringing specialist emergency care to the scene of an incident using our rapid response vehicles or air ambulance, our mission is to save lives and reduce disability.

Our service is not state-funded and we rely on generous public donations to deliver our 24/7 lifesaving care. Find out how you can help by making a donation or fundraising for us.

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