William flies to aid of oil rig worker in first rescue mission as co-pilot

Prince William has taken part in his first mission as a search and rescue helicopter co-pilot, flying to the aid of an off-shore gas rig contractor.

The Prince was part of a four-man helicopter crew which was scrambled to rescue the worker from an accommodation rig next to a gas production platform in Morecambe Bay, the RAF said.

The helicopter crew was alerted at 2.11pm on Saturday after a call from Liverpool Coastguard who reported a worker was seriously ill after suffering a suspected heart attack.

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The Sea King helicopter, from C Flight, 22 Squadron, the Search and Rescue (SAR) Force, was in the air seven minutes later, taking off from the base at RAF Valley on Anglesey, North Wales. The crew of "Rescue 122" arrived at the rig 24 minutes later where the RAF Winchman quickly assessed the contractor's condition.

The crewmen described the weather conditions as "squally winds, which produced some moderate turbulence around the rig's helicopter landing platform".

By 2.50pm the aircraft was in the air again, landing on-shore where the patient was transferred to a waiting ambulance.

A spokesman for Prince William said: "Prince William is pleased finally to be able to contribute to the life-saving work of the Search and Rescue Force.

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"He is proud, after two years of intense training, to be able to serve in one of Britain's foremost emergency services."

The Prince joined his unit on September 17 after graduating from his training course and praising the "vital" work of the service. Flight Lieutenant Wales is expected to spend three years as a frontline search and rescue pilot.

The patient was taken to a cardiac unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital where he was said to be in a comfortable condition.

A spokesman for Centrica, which operates the two Morecambe Bay gas fields, said: "The man was airlifted and taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, where he is still undergoing treatment."

RAF SAR crews work 24-hour shifts, completing up to 10 a month, but William will continue to carry out royal engagements.