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Light in the dark

The Cornwall Air Ambulance crew is now fully trained and operational for new extended flying hours.

Cornwall Air Ambulance is extending its helicopter operating hours to 19 hours a day from 7am until 2am. Where previously paramedics responded to missions in the rapid response vehicles after 7pm, they will now be able to attend in the helicopter. The aircrew have been going through night HEMS training in preparation for the service being fully operational early this year.

Steve Murdoch, Chief Operating Officer at Cornwall Air Ambulance, says: “The way our clinical teams provide care has continually evolved over the years. In 2017, we started a trial providing critical care in rapid response vehicles until 2am. This trial provided us with the evidence that our services would be required until the early hours of the morning. As you would expect, the serious injuries and illness which require our specialist critical care can occur at any time of the day or night.

“Being able to get specialist care to a patient quickly can be the difference between life and death. That is why we are committed to extending our helicopter operating hours, which will help us to reach an average of two or more patients per day.”

The new helicopter has enhanced safety features for flying at night and the aircrew have been through extended training to prepare them for the new hours of operation.

Chief Pilot at Cornwall Air Ambulance, Captain Adam Smith, says: “There are many upgrades in this aircraft which will make a real difference to operations here. The AW169 has some of the most advanced navigation capabilities on offer in the industry. Being able to input locations into the helicopter, a bit like a car sat-nav, will really help when we are flying in darkness.

“During night operations, we rely on fixed fuel reserves, Cornwall has few fuelling options out-of-hours, so it’s a huge benefit to be able to fly further at night due to the better fuel endurance in the new helicopter.

“The Synthetic Vision System (SVS) helps the crew when returning to airports or heliports as it shows us what we would see if it was daytime. We are delighted to be able to extend the helicopter service we can provide to the community.”


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