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The answers to your questions and the opportunity for you to ask more

My property has been damaged, who is going to pay for it?

Our Air Ambulance crews are trained to be very aware of persons and property whilst conducting their vital work. All efforts are made to avoid damage to property and that is one of the many decision-making processes undertaken by the crew when you see them circling overhead prior to landing.

On rare occasions accidental damage may be caused. If you have suffered damage to your property due to our operations, please contact Helicopter Services Complaints in the first instance so that we can discuss the issue with you and find a resolution.

Why have you landed on my bowling green / lawn and damaged the surface?

We are tasked by Ambulance Control to any incidents requiring the specialist life-saving skills of our Critical Care teams. On arriving overhead at an incident, the helicopter crew will circle the incident and locate the nearest, safe, landing site.

Lots of variable factors influence that decision-making process, such as: proximity to the incident, ease of access to the incident by the team, ease of access back to the helicopter with a stretchered patient, size of the landing site, over head wires and many other hazards, etc. We do our best to avoid causing damage to property, including bowling greens, lawns and golf putting greens, but on occasion, due to the circumstances, we have no option but to land in such locations. Even on these rare occasions, we will always do our very best to limit any damage caused to such surfaces.

Was there any need to fly so low over my house?

Every time we fly our helicopters, we operate them to the very highest safety standards, as dictated by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Various rules and regulations govern how close we are able to operate to buildings, people, etc. When the aircraft flew past your house, the pilot will have carefully assessed the safety of the aircraft and properties on the surface.

Next, balanced against the urgency of the incident we were attending, the pilot will have considered the noise nuisance aspect of our proximity. We do our very best to be neighbourly in operating our aircraft but at times we have to fly near to properties in order to conduct our time critical work.

Why did you land here when you could / usually land there?

The aircraft crew receive details of the task before leaving base, including a grid reference, and based upon this will make an initial assessment of a likely landing site.

The crew however can only select a precise landing site on arrival on scene when they have taken into account any local conditions relating to the site, including size and shape, slope, surface, weather conditions including wind direction and turbulence on approach and access to the patient.

In general, they will land as close as possible to the patient which could well be a different location to a previous incident in the same area.

How long are you going to be here?

This will depend upon the nature of the incident and condition of the patient. Our clinical crews are able to provide a very high level of pre-hospital care and as a result, will carry out all necessary treatment to facilitate a safe transfer to the most suitable hospital. They won’t spend any more time at the scene than absolutely necessary.

What's happened?

We are bound by patient confidentiality rules and are therefore not able to provide any specific details about the incident we are attending.

Where is the patient / casualty?

We are bound by patient confidentiality rules and are therefore not able to provide any specific details about the incident we are attending.

Why is the patient going in the land ambulance when the helicopter is here?

Our practice is always focused on what is best for the patient, depending upon their unique set of circumstances.

The helicopter may be the best mode of transport for speed, particularly over long distances to specialist hospitals.

Sometimes, the extra space inside a road ambulance allows the clinicians to conduct more medical interventions on a patient on the way into hospital than they could achieve in the smaller space in the helicopter.

It may be that the weather is OK at the incident, but it is not good enough at the hospital to permit a safe flight, so again, a road ambulance would be used.

Each situation is assessed on its own set of circumstances and the best mode of transport for the patient selected.

Can I take a photo or video?

Yes of course you can! It’s not every day you get to see the helicopter up close. We will ask you not to photograph or video when we are loading a patient on board the aircraft though, as we need to ensure their privacy.

I've raised lots of money for the charity. Can I get in the aircraft and have a look?

Once we have arrived on scene and know whether we are going to be conveying a patient, we will often have time to allow people to look at the aircraft more closely, including sitting inside it. However, during the current COVID-19 Pandemic we are of course not able to offer that at the moment.

Why didn't you land on the beach?

While a beach may be an obvious place to land there are some additional considerations for the pilot in landing there, not least the fact that the height of tide can change over the course of the time our crew may spend there. Helicopter downwash does result in re-circulating sand / debris that can cause problems both to ground-based crews / onlookers and to the aircraft itself.

How much does the aircraft cost?

Our new helicopter G-DAAS cost in the region of £8.5m

Why are the paramedics wearing PPE and not you (the pilot)?

Crew operating the aircraft are restricted by Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules regarding the equipment that they wear.

This is incompatible with higher levels of PPE, which is provided for the clinical crew treating the patient, but not the pilot and there are CAA dispensations applied to permit this action.

The inside of the helicopter is divided by a separation barrier designed to ensure that the rear compartment carrying the patient and crew are entirely separate from the pilot, who in effect is operating in a clean / sterile area to protect them.

Can you cut down a fence to get a patient through?

Emergency Service try very hard to prevent damage and will always seek an alternative but yes, if necessary, gate locks / fences may be cut to provide suitable access.

Why did you ignore me when I was waving at you to land over there?

The crew will usually react to indications from the ground, which in some cases are very helpful in locating the scene of an incident.

The pilot will select a precise landing site once they have considered any local conditions relating to the site, including size and shape, slope, surface, weather conditions including wind direction and turbulence on approach and access to the patient.

It may well be that they can see something from the air not seen by you, or an aircraft / wind limitation may also have influenced the decision.

Can a relative travel with the patient if you have space / weight?

This decision is usually made by the clinicians onboard and will usually only be considered if in the interests of the patient’s treatment. If there is a need for a relative to be transferred to the destination hospital, this is usually discussed on-scene and may involve other relatives / neighbours, or in extreme cases, police vehicles.

Why isn't the pilot helping with the stretcher lift?

The pilots are asked not to be involved with manual handling tasks, such as lifting/loading a stretcher. The reason for this is if they suffer an injury during the lift that prevents them from flying safely, as there is only one of them, the helicopter cannot then be used to fly a patient to hospital, or to go on to conduct further missions.

We welcome your questions about our operations and service. Please use the form below to contact us.

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