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Ageing air ambulance tries out new helipad

The current Great Western Air Ambulance touches down on the helipad for its first and likely to be its last time. Photo: Credit: GWAAC

The Great Western Air Ambulance charity's helicopter has become the first to land on the new BRI helipad, which is due to go into use in mid-May. The flight test was for the benefit of all the air ambulances wanting to deliver patients via the hospital roof but, ironically, the charity won't be able to take advantage of the facility because its craft is simply too old.

The helipad creates unique access to the hospital and the Great Western Air Ambulance charity wants to take advantage Credit: GWAAC

We are the only air ambulance in the area who are unable to land on the BRI’s new helipad which is incredibly frustrating as we are the local air ambulance for Bristol in addition to this last year nearly a third of all of our patients were transferred to the BRI which is why it is so important to us to migrate to a new helicopter.

– John Christensen, Chief Executive, GWAAC
A side view of the very first landing on the roof of the Bristol Royal Infirmary Credit: GWAAC

A campaign has begun to raise money for a new EC135 helicopter for the charity, which will be able to land on the new helipad and provide a better service for the community. It is also working with local MPs to apply for a grant from the LIBOR fund to help pay for it.

It also has to raise around £1.75 million a year to keep flying.

The air ambulance covers Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, Gloucestershire and parts of West Wiltshire - an area with around 2.1 million people.

The Bolkow 105 helicopter was designed in 1958 and needs to be replaced with a more modern version Credit: GWAAC

To find out more about the work of the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity, click here.

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