This is the new Children’s Air Ambulance – in place at its new based in Doncaster.
The new helicopter was unveiled today at its new hanger at Doncaster Sheffield Airport, ahead of the start of its operational use next week.
It has been put in place as a seven-year project to provide a nationwide high speed transfer service for critically ill children and babies came to fruition.
The Children’s Air Ambulance is the first and only dedicated paediatric and neonatal transfer helicopter service in the country operating four times faster than road transfer. It will be operational from Monday September 17.
It will work closely with Embrace, a specialist, round-the-clock transport service for critically ill infants and children in Yorkshire and the Humber, which is associated with Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Transport nurse at Embrance, Ian Braithwaite, said the aircraft would pick up patients from Doncaster Royal Infirmary at the Deaf School on Leger Way. Embrace’s specialist ambulances would take them the rest of the way.
They will pick up patients for Sheffield Children’s Hospital at the Northern General Hospital, although a fundraising appeal is ongonig to fund a helicopter landing pad on the roof of the children’s hospital.
Mr Braithwaite said the helicopter would be used for longer journeys, such as to Great Ormond Street Hospital In London for specialist emergency treatment.
He said: “With the new helicopter here in Doncaster, we will be able to fly children from 7am until 2am. Previously it was 9am to 4pm, or during daylight hours.”
Among those at the launch was 22-month old Arlo Sheridan, with his mum and dad Sharon and Tom Sheridan.
Arlo and his family have reason to care about the air ambulance – he was carried by the charity when he was born early in Leamington, when doctors feared he may have lung problems.
He was flown up to York, in his incubator.making an 150 mile journey from Warwick Hospital to York Hospital, near the family’s home. It made sure he was kept safe during the journey, made in an incubator to keep him the right temperature.
Mum Sharon said: “All the children it will help will be massive. The people who run it are fantastic
Dad Tom added: “They made us feel comfortable straight away at what was a scary time.
“For Arlo it wasn’t necessarily a lifesaver, but there are many for whom it is a lifesaver.”
Speaking at the ceremony to unveil the new aircraft and airbase,Children’s Air Ambulance chief executive Andy Williamson said: “This is the culmination of a long and difficult journey to provide this unique service and I am very proud to see it come to fruition and of all those involved in making the dream in Yorkshire a reality.
Since 2012 the charity have completed more than 300 missions, operating out of the Coventry. The decision to provide two helicopters at bases in the north and south of Great Britain will enable the charity to meet more needs with a target of 600 missions a year.
The charity’s two AgustaWestland 169 aircraft will be based in Doncaster Sheffield and Oxford, and will be the only intensive care helicopters in the country dedicated to transferring critically ill children and babies from local hospitals to specialist paediatric and neonatal treatment centres.
The specialist equipment on-board includes a specially designed stretcher system and clinical interior, incubator and extra seat for a parent to be able to accompany their child. These state of the art facilities make the helicopters second to none in the provision of paediatric and neonatal transfers.
The expansion of the charity and the service provided has been welcomed by the nine clinical teams nationwide that it works in partnership with and at absolutely no cost to the NHS.
“The team at Embrace are very excited about the launch of the new and improved AW169 Children’s Air Ambulance helicopter based at Doncaster,” said Dr Steve Hancock, lead consultant (Paediatrics) at Embrace Yorkshire and Humber Infant and Children’s Transport Service.
Robert Hough, Chairman of Doncaster Sheffield Airport said he was delighted to welcome the Children’s Air Ambulance to its new base at the airport and help them in their ongoing work to fly critically ill children to specialist care.
He added: “It is an important part of our masterplan for the airport to act as a base for organisations like the Children’s Air Ambulance and we were pleased to work with them to bring their new headquarters for the North to DSA”
Anyone wishing to find out more about the lifesaving work of the charity can call 0300 3045 999 or visit www.childrensairambulance.org.uk
•The Air Ambulance Service (TAAS) is the umbrella organisation for the Children’s Air Ambulance (a national transfer service for seriously ill children and babies), and two local air ambulances: Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (WNAA) and Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance (DLRAA).
•TAAS receives no government funding.
•TAAS routinely carries senior doctors and consultants on board, in essence taking the hospital to the patient and allowing them to provide advanced treatment on scene.
•TAAS’s state-of-the-art Agusta helicopters have a top speed of 185mph and are the fastest civilian helicopters available.
•WNAA and DLRAA work together on collaborative operations at major trauma scenes. Between them they carry out 1,800 rescues a year.
•Each children’s transfer they carry out costs around £3,500.