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New pan-island air rescue charity testing helicopter

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A CHARITY aiming to launch a new Channel Islands rescue service has been flight testing a helicopter.

G-LAVA leaving Guernsey Airport bound for Alderney showing off the capabilities of the Airbus Helicopters H135 which could be used by Air Rescue Channel Islands in the near future. The aircraft had arrived from Jersey about 30 minutes earlier. (Picture by Tony Rive)

Air Rescue Channel Islands is developing a community-funded, pan-island, emergency helicopter service that will be on standby 24 hours a day.

It is estimated that getting the operation up and running would cost £1.5m. and it would cut the current time it takes for a patient to reach hospital by a quarter.

Charity founder Andrew Scott-Miller said a generous supporter in Jersey recently chartered a helicopter for them to carry out a series of flight tests and demonstrate the capabilities of a helicopter to some of their stakeholders.

‘There are a small number of potential models of helicopters we are researching, each with different features, benefits and potential compromises and it is essential we understand and explore these,’ he said.

‘Cabin sizes and layout vary greatly as do other features such as range, speed, cabin vibration and noise, in the same way cars vary between not just manufacturers, but generic types, for example MPV, SUV, mini bus etc.’

Mr Scott-Miller said there were a range of stakeholders and advisors in Alderney who the supporter wanted to see the advantages and just how suited helicopters are to their needs.

It is hoped a helicopter would be based on the islands by the summer and the organisation is working with health departments in Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney, ready to provide urgent medivacs across the islands and looking to restore the 24/7 medivacs from Alderney to Guernsey, which ceased in 2018.

‘We still have a long way to go on this project, but now have some proven flight times, and understanding of taxi timings at the airports and just how important the discussions we are having with the airports are on where and how we can take off and land and what a significant difference this can make,’ said Mr Scott-Miller.

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‘We still aim and are working hard to deliver a service in the air this year and have already received a number of generous pledges from local residents passionate about making this project happen.’

Mr Scott-Miller has been in Guernsey meeting with government officials, having clinical discussions with a number of senior consultants at the hospital as well as logistical discussions with the airports.

‘There is a real sense that this project is becoming a testimony to what we can achieve as the Channel Islands when all parties across all islands work together with a passion to achieve a common goal.’

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