Helicopter air ambulance work continues behind the scenes
A CHARITY is progressing its plans to start a Channel Islands rescue helicopter service, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Air Rescue Channel Islands had hoped to launch a trial service for a six-month period in June.
Its primary function would be a helicopter air ambulance providing a rapid response to patients in Alderney, Sark and Herm, as well as the transfer of the most critically ill patients in Jersey and Guernsey to specialist UK hospitals.
‘The current crisis is making timelines a challenge as this month we were meant to be evaluating helicopters and operators, but we are working hard in the background and desperate to launch a service as soon as we can as we know we are absolutely needed,’ said a spokesman.
‘Even if we are not flying, we would have additional doctors and paramedics to assist across the islands.’
The helicopter, to be based in Guernsey, will fly under the call sign Helimed 96 on missions where there is a threat to life.
It has been specified to fulfil a number of roles, with the medical interior being able to be adapted within a few minutes to carry up to six passengers.
This would enable inter-island transfer of specialists, such as medical staff and firearms and bomb disposal officers, allowing the islands to share resources and reduce costs.
Once operational Air Rescue will join the NHS Transplant transport team, transporting specialist staff between the UK and the islands when a suitable donor is identified.
There is currently more need for a pan-island helicopter service than ever, according to the spokesman.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, inter-island medevac flights are proving to be a challenge.
‘For UK transfers, a helicopter landing on a hospital helipad saves not only time, especially when some airports are now closing, but more importantly, every patient is saved having to transfer to a road ambulance, which is further contact with other people and equipment,’ he said.
‘We are hearing how people are struggling to return to the islands, especially from France.
‘The helicopter being able to change role from a medical interior to taking passengers would be assisting.’
In late February, ARCI sent out a tender to five helicopter operators in the UK to provide a six-month trial flying a single shift a day initially.
n Further information including how to donate money can be found at https://www.air-rescue.org or on the charity’s Facebook page.