The number of callouts reached sky high levels this year for the region's helicopter paramedic service.

In 2018 Essex and Herts Air Ambulance experienced its busiest year ever, with the charity providing assistance to 1,491 patients.

That represents a 38 per cent rise compared to 2016.

Helicopters and rapid response vehicles were dispatched on a total of 2,241 occasions last year.

Stuart Elms, clinical director of the service, said: “The need for the charity’s life-saving service is as strong now as it was twenty years ago when our first helicopter, covering just Essex, took to the air with two Paramedics in 1998.

“We now operate critical care teams consisting of a pre-hospital care doctor and critical care paramedic and have two state-of-the-art helicopters covering the counties of Essex and Hertfordshire.

"They are backed up by rapid response vehicles after sunset and in poor weather.”

Summer season saw the charity’s busiest period, with more than 200 missions a month were conducted between May and July.

Medical incidents accounted for 39 per cent of the total, followed by road traffic collisions (24 per cent) and accidental injuries (15 per cent).

The remaining 22 per cent included a mix of cases such as assaults and sports/leisure accidents.

Mr Elms added: “With the help of our supporters across Essex and Hertfordshire we will continue to develop our service to give the best critical care we can to the critically ill and seriously injured patients that we attend.”