9 May 2022
Following a campaign during our 30th anniversary, today we celebrated the official opening of London’s Air Ambulance’s new helipad space.
The new offices are positioned closer to the flight deck, enabling the crew to reach the aircraft faster when a trauma call comes in. Therefore this development will potentially give London’s most critically injured patients a better chance of survival by shaving seconds off the advanced trauma teams’ response times.
The new office complex also aims to improve crew wellbeing; providing space to debrief and decompress, which is vital for the teams’ mental health.
On the rooftop of The Royal London Hospital, Minister for Health, Ed Argar, London's Air Ambulance Charity CEO, Jonathan Jenkins, and The Royal London Hospital Chief Executive, Jackie Sullivan, formally cut the ribbon to mark its first day in operation - as seen in the above image. The ceremony was also attended by funders, officials and crew members, and Sally Abbott, the Head of Fundraising at the HELP Appeal, which provided a generous grant of £550,000 towards the project. Minister for Health Ed Argar gave a short speech to mark the DHSC’s support for the project.
“Air ambulances play a life-saving role in our emergency services by supporting the NHS and treating people in the most critical condition – I am thankful for all our rapid response teams, and it was a pleasure and privilege to visit the London’s Air Ambulance team once again, following my visit in January 2020.
London’s Air Ambulance Charity successfully bid for a grant of £1.4 million from the £10 million capital fund made available by DHSC to air ambulances in 2019. The grant was awarded to fund the vital redevelopment of the helipad base as well as a package of cutting-edge operational and training equipment to ensure our world-leading medical teams continue to lead the way in pre-hospital trauma care.
We launched the campaign to raise the money for the facilities during a visit from our Patron, HRH The Duke of Cambridge, to mark the 30th anniversary of the charity in January 2019.
After initial feasibility work, the construction of the new facilities began in September 2021. The new facilities, which guests were able to view during today’s ceremony, include:
- An elevated operations room directly underneath the flight deck for pilots, fire crew and medical team. This will provide quicker access to the aircraft for faster dispatch and is anticipated to save 20-30 seconds off each launch.
- A quiet space for post-mission debriefs
- A “safe space” for on-duty teams to find respite after challenging missions
- A large multi-use training room / simulation theatre for teaching and moulages
- Rest pods for frontline crews.
Jonathan Jenkins, CEO of London’s Air Ambulance Charity, said: “Every second counts for seriously injured patients. By reducing the time it will take to get the helicopter airborne, the service will be able to respond to its patients ever faster, improve training and make sure its crews have the space they need for their mental health and wellbeing. It will also ensure that the world-class, world renowned service has the facilities to reflect this.
“We are immensely grateful to the DHSC, to the County Air Ambulance Trust, to our partners Barts Health NHS Trust and to the people across London who gave so generously to support this vital work. Thanks to them, our doctors and paramedics can get to the side of a critically-injured person as quickly as possible, providing rapid response care at the scene when there is no time to get to hospital.”
The HELP Appeal is the only charity in the country dedicated to funding NHS hospital and air ambulance base helipads. Sally Abbott, its Head of Fundraising, said:
“The HELP Appeal charity focuses on saving lives, whether that’s funding NHS hospital helipads, critical care cars or air ambulance medical equipment. We are extremely proud that this is the first time we have funded a facility which will help the fabulous air ambulance crew, who are under immense pressure to save lives in incredibly difficult situations. We hope this much needed space will give them the opportunity to rest and recover from their missions.”
Alistair Chesser, Group Chief Medical Officer at Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “We are incredibly proud to be partners of London’s Air Ambulance. Thanks to these new facilities our doctors will be able to provide life-saving care for patients across London as soon as possible."