Accident victims across Oxfordshire are set to get rapid life-saving help when the air ambulance relocates to its new county-based home today.

The emergency helicopter will be able to reach county spots more than four times quicker after moving to RAF Benson, near Wallingford.

The Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance takes nine minutes to get to Oxford city centre from its base near Maidenhead in Berkshire.

The journey time will drop to two minutes once it starts responding to 999 calls from its new home.

General manager Stevie Horton said about 10 per cent of the helicopter's 916 missions last year were in Oxfordshire.

She added: "Once we move there will be faster response times. It'll only take a couple of minutes to get to Oxford and will be a real life saver for Oxfordshire residents.

"Half the call-outs are road traffic accidents. The other half are made up of things like accidents on golf courses, agricultural and equestrian injuries, children in playgrounds, and walkers, and the helicopter is there within minutes.

"It will be a very big plus for the people of Oxfordshire."

The Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance is a charity. Although South Central Ambulance Service supplies paramedics free of charge, it costs £1.2m a year to keep the Bolkow 105 machine in the air.

Mrs Horton said the move to RAF Benson would boost the organisation's finances. As well as giving them access to cheap air force fuel, subsidised by the Government, it could encourage Oxfordshire residents to fundraise for their cause.

She said: "We have a great amount of support in Berkshire but not in Oxfordshire, and I suppose I can see why.

"Now the helicopter is based in the county there's every incentive to fundraise for us.

"We're looking to upgrade to a Eurocopter 135 which is faster and able to airlift a patient's relative or a child's mother or father, which we feel is vital.

"It will cost £1.5m a year, so it really is important that the people of Oxfordshire get behind us and help us get it as soon as we can.

"At the moment we operate seven days a week, 365 days a year. But if we didn't get the funding we need, we would have to cut our service and we don't want that to happen."