ACCIDENT victims' lives are being put in jeopardy because of Hertfordshire's lack of air ambulance cover, campaigners have claimed.

The county is one of only three in England and Wales with no designated air coverage, leaving emergency services to beg and borrow helicopters from their neighbours - but only when they are not using them.

Now, a charitable appeal backed by the Essex Air Ambulance and Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps has been set up to fund a Hertfordshire chopper.

At present the Government pays nothing of the £1 million annual running costs of the average aerial unit, so the group will need to find all the money itself.

It hopes to raise enough to first gain a share of Essex services and then to purchase its own unit outright.

Mr Shapps, a keen pilot himself, said: "Most people are shocked to discover that Hertfordshire is one of only three counties in the whole of the UK not to have its own Air Ambulance service.

"That's why I've met with organisers to encourage an appeal to create a potentially life-saving air ambulance cover for us."

Of more than 12,000 missions flown in the UK each year, over half are to serious road traffic accidents.

In many remote accidents a helicopter offers the only chance of survival as it is able to deliver patients to hospital inside the so-called "golden hour" - the critical life and death guideline operated by the armed forces around the world. Essex and Herts Air Ambulance trustee Rob Forsyth said: "With Hertfordshire's extensive network of roads combined with tracts of relatively inaccessible countryside, an air ambulance is a vital service that we are missing at present.

"Once the service begins to operate in the county, we feel sure it will generate its own fund-raising momentum as people see it starting to save lives."

To find out more about the campaign visit or telephone 01787 221828.