8-Jun-2015 Source: NHS
Derriford Hospital celebrated the official opening of our life-saving helipad, which took place today (Friday 5 June) with its first ever landing of a Search and Rescue helicopter.
Special guests attended the event, along with key members of the hospital, ambulance and building staff to celebrate the great impact that the helipad will have on patient care and treatment.
In 2012, Derriford Hospital officially became the Peninsula Trauma Centre and receives around 400 patients per year as emergencies needing transfer by air. After talk of building a new helipad many years ago, it became a reality when the closure of the Plymouth Airport was announced, leaving the hospital without a backup plan.
Previously the hospital did not have a recognised helipad and instead had a small grassed-over area adjacent to the Emergency Department, which had been used for some years as a set-down area for air ambulances.
The new helipad has been funded by the County Air Ambulance HELP (Helicopter Emergency Landing Pads) Appeal, which has contributed £850,000 alongside £900,000 capital funding from the hospital Trust.
Speaking at the event, Julie Richards, Associate Director of Planning for Plymouth Hospitals, said: “What an amazing project. We wouldn’t be here today without the support of HELP and the work of South West Highways, who delivered the project on time and were great to work with. The helipad has been a massive team effort, from start to finish, with so many people from the Trust, as well as our colleagues at Devon Air Ambulance, Cornwall Air Ambulance, ddrc healthcare, working so hard to make it possible.”
Ann James, Chief Executive for Plymouth Hospitals, said: “Today I had the pleasure of attending the official opening of our new helipad. For the first time ever we will be able to accommodate search and rescue helicopters within our hospital grounds, as well as night time landings. This is fantastic news and thanks to the support of the HELP Appeal, we have been able to make this happen for our patients.
“I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to all of our colleagues who have made this helipad possible, including planning, site services, emergency staff, the Peninsula Trauma Centre, with a particular mention for Julie Richards, Associate Director of Planning, who has led on this project from the beginning.”
Robert Bertram, Chief Executive of County Air Ambulance HELP Appeal said: “The first ever Search and Rescue air ambulance landing today on the new helipad is a hugely significant moment.
“It means that more lives will be saved and the chance of lifelong disability from a serious trauma or illness could be dramatically reduced, as the patient will be getting the expert care they urgently need much quicker. A dedicated helipad is essential at Derriford Hospital, the region’s only Major Trauma Centre.
“It’s the generosity of people donating to the HELP Appeal that have helped make this life saving helipad a reality, so we would like to thank them.”
The hospital’s previous area was unsuitable for larger helicopters, such as those from the Military and Search and Rescue, and it also had no lighting. No flights, even from smaller helicopters, have been able to land at Derriford at night.
Our new helipad will now be able to receive Search and Rescue helicopters as well as the night flights from Devon and Cornwall Air Ambulances.
Paula Martin, Chief Executive of Cornwall Air Ambulance, said: “We’re extremely proud to have played a part in making this purpose built helipad for Derriford Hospital a reality. This new facility will make a real difference to patients from Cornwall suffering serious trauma injuries and requiring specialist treatment at the regional Major Trauma Centre.
“The helipad is especially important to us as the first air ambulance in the region to fly in the hours of darkness, as it safeguards our ability to get our patients to the best possible treatment, even after dark.
“We want to express our sincere thanks to the local MPs who supported this project following lobbying by the local air ambulance services and the Association of Air Ambulances, as well as the other delivery partners who have made this project a reality.”
Nigel Hare, Operations Director for Devon Air Ambulance Trust said: “Having a purpose built fully night capable helipad at Derriford Hospital will allow us to not only continue delivering patients to the Regional Major Trauma Centre during daylight hours, but it will also help to ensure that our crews have the option to fly our patients to this specialist treatment centre when we extend our service into the hours of darkness next year.”