WILTSHIRE Air Ambulance’s state-of-the-art new airbase has been praised by the HELP (Helicopter Emergency Landing Pads) Appeal, which has generously funded the helipad with a £250,000 donation.
Yesterday (22 February) Robert Bertram, Chief Executive of the HELP Appeal, visited the new airbase at Outmarsh Farm, Semington, near Melksham, for the first time since construction began.
The HELP Appeal is the only charity in the country that funds the development of helipads at Major Trauma Centres, key A&E hospitals and air ambulance bases.
Mr Bertram toured the building and saw the helipad, the Flight and Operations Centre, the charity team office, training suite and visitors’ viewpoint, which looks over the helipad.
He was told that the design of the airbase and the helipad will help to enhance response times for Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s helicopter as the Flight and Operations Centre, where the pilots and paramedics are based, is located in close proximity to the helipad. In addition, the helipad has trace heating which will stop ice forming in freezing conditions enabling the helicopter and aircrew to respond to emergency incidents without delay.
Mr Bertram said: “The HELP Appeal is about saving time wherever possible, for example through funding lifesaving helipads all over the country including those at Bristol Royal Infirmary or Southmead Hospital and funding the cost of the helipad at Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s superb new airbase. It is important to shave vital minutes off the time it takes Wiltshire Air Ambulance pilots and paramedics to take off and transfer a critically ill patient to the hospital care they urgently need because saving time, saves lives.”
The £250,000 donation for Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s new helipad and associated costs includes the concrete construction, fuel installation, lighting to enable the helicopter to take off and land at night, relocation and upgrade of the weather station and security fencing.
The donation was paid in two tranches of £125,000, with the final tranche being received last month.
David Philpott, Chief Executive of Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: “We are extremely grateful to the HELP Appeal for their generosity in donating £250,000 for our new helipad. The funding has enabled us to build the best possible helipad, which will ultimately help us to save lives. This is because our pilots and paramedics will have immediate access to the aircraft as their room is close to the helipad, saving valuable seconds.
“The trace heating on the helipad is a new benefit for our operation. Instead of the aircrew having to clear away ice and snow off the helipad manually, the trace heating will clear it automatically. Not only will this be safer working conditions for our aircrew, but it will also enhance our response times in inclement weather.”
Construction work on the new airbase is close to being completed after which Wiltshire Air Ambulance will fit out the building before it becomes operational by this summer.