Air Ambulance Helipad Opens At RVH

Northern Ireland's Air Ambulance has completed its first test landing at a new helipad at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

With just a short period of testing and crew familiarisation to take place throughout the next week, the charity will soon operate a fully operational helicopter emergency medical service.

It's estimated the direct landing site will reduce travel times to the RVH, Northern Ireland's main trauma centre, by 25 minutes.

Patients will be admitted directly after landing at the critical care building, rather than via the current system of using the Musgrave Park Hospital helipad and ambulance transfer to the Falls Road hospital.

From this point onwards, patients can be in the Emergency Department in just over two minutes, saving critical time and boosting their chances of a successful outcome.

Since its inception in 2017, the HEMS has attended more than 1300 calls and is delivered in partnership by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and the charity, Air Ambulance Northern Ireland.

Health Minister Robin Swann recognised the significance of the day, saying: "This is a momentous day for patients in Northern Ireland and it has been a privilege to witness the first test flight landing of the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) this morning. HEMS greatly benefits people with life-changing injuries, whose lives are at risk following significant trauma, by bringing skilled clinicians to the scene to deliver advanced critical care and rapidly transporting the patient to the regional trauma centre for ongoing emergency care.
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"My Department continues to provide significant recurrent funding of approximately £1 million each year to enable the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service to cover the medical aspects of the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service, including staff, training and equipment. And I am committed to the partnership-funding relationship with Air Ambulance Northern Ireland, who raise charity funds, including public donations, to sustain the aviation side."

NIAS Chief Executive, Michael Bloomfield, welcomed the opening of the helipad as a leap forward for local trauma care.

The HEMS service has undertaken over 1300 calls over the past two and a half years, with many seriously injured patients receiving advanced on-scene care from medical teams before being transferred directly to Belfast for specialist treatment.

Mr Bloomfield said: "By landing on this pad we will be able to further reduce the journey time for these patents by around 25 minutes, avoiding the need for a secondary transfer by road ambulance.

"I commend the work of all involved in this project which will, undoubtedly save lives."

Air Ambulance NI and Northern Ireland Ambulance Service play a key role in the treatment of critically ill patients, working in partnership with healthcare providers to optimise trauma care.

Chairperson of Air Ambulance Northern Ireland Ray Foran, speaking on behalf of the charity responsible for fundraising the £2 million required annually to sustain the service, also welcomed this latest phase in the air ambulance journey.

"We are delighted to have achieved this milestone and acknowledge the success of partnership working and thanks to all involved," he said.

"Air Ambulance patients are brought to the most relevant hospital for their injuries and for many this is the Royal Victoria Hospital as the main trauma centre for the region. Time is of critical importance for any trauma patient therefore accessing the Royal via the helipad is very much welcomed."


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