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New Air Ambulance takes off at Welshpool

Created on 02/11/2012 @ 13:03


Montgomeryshire now has a new state-of-the-art air ambulance to ensure medical emergency cover for the area - the most cutting-edge of its kind in the UK.

The people of Wales and the local aea have paid for the brand new aircraft which has capabilities to fly at night and in tough weather conditions, replacing our 20-year-old aircraft based at the Mid Wales Airport near Welshpool.

The new aircraft, which will operate from Welshpool Airport from today. It is the third and final of WAA’s helicopters to be upgraded, after two successful campaigns to replace aircraft at its Swansea and Caernarfon bases.

The upgrade from a Bolkow-105 to a Eurocopter-135 comes after months of fundraising to generate an extra £600,000 for the purpose-built aircraft. ‘Leap into Action’ was WAA’s nationwide campaign for 2012, appealing to supporters to act now to help replace the charity’s aged helicopter before it was decommissioned by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Supporters rallied across Wales for the appeal, including a 200-mile trek by opera star Rhys Meirion. The Welsh tenor was joined by a host of celebrities such as Lucie Jones and Josie D’Arby for ‘Cerddwn Ymlaen-Walk On’, which visited all three airbases during the walk and raised over £60,000.

The largest single donation for the Welshpool-based helicopter came from the estate of the late Harry Boden, of local builders’ merchant Boys & Boden Ltd. The £250,000 legacy was a massive contribution to the upgrade, which has enabled the new air ambulance to be fitted with additional equipment, such as radar technology for adverse weather conditions – meaning missions can be reached regardless of weather patterns.

WAA Chief Executive Angela Hughes said: “The response we have had from this appeal has been phenomenal. People from every corner of Wales have helped us with our final upgrade to a new generation helicopter, meaning all three aircraft have the very latest technology for air ambulance operations here in Wales.  

“This really is a new chapter for Wales Air Ambulance, and for pre-hospital care in Wales. These helicopters are faster, more efficient and have more room inside for treatment in-flight. Now that we have this technology across the country, it means everyone in Wales – from busy towns to the remotest of countryside – can benefit from this cutting-edge emergency air cover.”

Charity Chairman Bob Palmer added: “The charity has come a long way since it started in 2001, growing from one helicopter in Swansea to a national operation that can reach anywhere in Wales within just 20 minutes. Having strived to get this new lease, our next challenge is to ensure that our new generation fleet continues to fly for many years to come. We are here for anyone in their most difficult hour of need, and we hope people will continue to support this lifesaving cause for Wales.”

Benefits of the Eurocopter-135 (EC135)
•    The new aircraft will be able to hold a custom-made incubator for the paediatric transfers and emergencies that our crews attend.
•    The latest radar technology, enabling flights in adverse weather conditions and also night flying capability for transfers.
•    Faster aircraft with a state-of-the-art navigation system.
•    Extra space inside the helicopter will help paramedics treat patients in-flight and make them feel more comfortable.
•    An extra seat that can accommodate a doctor if required, or the parent of an injured child.
•    The tail rotor is enclosed within a casing to make the aircraft even safer when operating at ground level.
•    Fuel efficient and able to attend multiple missions before refueling. 
•    The current model is a standard helicopter that has been converted to an air ambulance. The new aircraft is a purpose-built air ambulance, which has had design input from experienced aircrew paramedics.
•    Fast fact: the EC135 has a whopping 397 buttons in the pilot’s cockpit.

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