Specialist critical care medics from Wiltshire Air Ambulance have responded to 95 medical emergencies while the helicopter was grounded for over a month.
The Bell 429 aircraft was out of action between 15 June and 19 July following an incident on the charity’s helipad at its airbase at Semington, near Melksham.
While the pilot was carrying out the prescribed daily engines’ power assurance checks the helicopter went into an uncommanded spin before the prompt and appropriate actions of the pilot brought the aircraft to a final stop. No damage occurred to the aircraft, ground equipment or airbase.
Despite the aircraft being grounded, the charity’s paramedics and doctors responded to 95 incidents in cars. That’s, on average, almost three incidents a day – and in one in five incidents they travelled in land ambulances providing the critical care to their patients en-route to hospitals.
A spokesperson for Wiltshire Air Ambulance said: “Following in-depth testing of the helicopter as part of the investigation, the manufacturer recommended the precautionary replacement of two components that had to be sourced from North America. Furthermore, two sets of flight data were downloaded from the helicopter to guide the required investigation of the event.
“After further testing (on the ground and in flight) carried out in conjunction with qualified representatives of the manufacturer, a detailed, yet preliminary report was issued by the aircraft manufacturer on 19 July providing all the information that had been requested by the charity and the aircraft operator to release the helicopter to service and resume operations.
“During the time that the helicopter has been unable to fly, the charity’s Paramedics and Doctors have been operational providing critical care in Wiltshire and assisting neighbouring air ambulances, by using Rapid Response Cars, including one loaned to them from the charity West Berkshire Rapid Response Cars. The cars have the same specialist medical equipment – funded by donations – that is onboard the helicopter.”
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