Hereford Is Home To New Night Landing Site

Aylestone Hill in Hereford has become the latest temporary night-lit helicopter landing site to go live, and will support MAAC’s operations in the county after the hours of darkness.

The charity operates its lifesaving service 14 hours a day, 365 days a year, flying full air ambulance missions in daylight, but can only fly between lit helipads after the hours of darkness until 9pm.

The new site was launched with a test flight by the charity’s air ambulance helicopter from the Strensham airbase in Worcestershire, which was welcomed by the local community.

Julian Spiers, airbase supervisor for the Strensham airbase, which covers Herefordshire, was part of the development team. He states: “To support emergency pre-hospital patient care in more remote parts of our operating patch after the hours of darkness research was undertaken into locations to host temporary night-lit landing sites in Herefordshire and Shropshire.

“Aylestone Hill was identified to support the regional trauma network after dark. As Hereford Hospital’s helipad isn’t currently night capable, the temporary landing site means we can reach and treat patients at a Hereford-based incident scene after dark. We can then rapidly convey patients in critical need of specialist care to a major trauma centre, at either Bristol or Coventry.”

The Aylestone Hill site brings the total number of temporary night-lit helipads to six, with additional sites in Bridgnorth, Ludlow, Bishops Castle, Shobdon and Tilstock.

At each location, with assistance from trained local volunteers, coloured light units are rapidly deployed in an emergency to mark a safe landing area so that the charity’s helicopters can remain operational after nightfall.  

The expansion of the project would not have been possible without the dedicated support from the local community, the Community Emergency Landing Light Support (CELLS) volunteers, grant funding from the HELP Appeal and assistance from FEC Heliports Equipment.

Robert Bertram, chief executive of the HELP Appeal, said: “If time is saved, a life can be saved. This is why a lit helipad is so important, particularly when there is less daylight, in ensuring that critically ill patients in the county can be flown as quickly as possibly to a major trauma centre to have the treatment they urgently need. We are so pleased to be able to help the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity in their lifesaving work.” 

Fraser MacKay, commercial director at FEC Heliports Worldwide, said: “It is part of the ethos of our company that we are continuously seeking to improve and enhance our product range.  By working closely with Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, we have created in HEMS-Station® an ideal solution for the secure storage and charging of our HEMS-Star® portable helipad lights.  We look forward to this first installation of HEMS-Station® at MAAC’s Hereford community landing site, made possible by the generous funding of the HELP Appeal, helping to extend air ambulance operational hours and to save lives.”

OPERATIONS STATISTICS:
Missions completed since 1991: 50,563 | On average we airlift a child every four days | Road traffic collisions make up around 35% of the incidents we attend | The service airlifts on average four horse riders each week.