The Children’s Wales Air Ambulance for paediatrics and neonatal care will be now be based permanently at the site which will also see training and briefing facilities at the site for the crew and support team.
The helicopter, an Airbus EC135, is the most technologically advanced children’s air ambulance in the UK and includes a pioneering flight incubator system and Britain’s only dedicated helicopter transfer practitioners (HTPs).
HTPs Dewi Thomas, Jez James, Steffan Simpson and Andrew Morris will be stationed alongside four pilots at Cardiff Heliport, and will operate on standby to help move patients between hospitals when they need specialist care.
All of the crews come from nursing and paramedic backgrounds and have undergone intensive air ambulance training over the past two months. They work closely with paediatric services including WATCH and NWTS, and the neonatal transfer team CHANTS who helped design Wales Air Ambulance’s flight incubator.
Operations manager Mark Winter said: “Moving permanently to our new base in Cardiff is a huge step in developing our Children’s Wales Air Ambulance division. We are now much closer to the Children’s Hospital for Wales and we have dedicated space and facilities for this very unique operation that we run.
“We can fly new-born babies and children to any centre in Wales and beyond, including Great Ormond Street and Alder Hey. This can make a vital difference to a poorly child who needs treatment or surgery, saving hours if they had gone by road. It also means the very specialist doctors and nurses we work with in hospitals are back in their wards and helping other children much faster.
“In the past 12 months we have flown over 40 children between hospitals, and now we have a home for our Children’s Wales Air Ambulance, we will be helping even more of Wales’ youngest patients in the years to come.”
Aviation Wales recently visited Wales Air Ambulance at their Llanelli headquarters to deliver money raised by Aviation Wales readers and had the opportunity to see the helicopters which combine to provide the most technically advanced Air Ambulance service in the UK. In addition to the Dafen HQ, two other helicopters are based at Welshpool and Caernarfon giving coverage across Wales.
Wales Air Ambulance Charity receives no central funding and is operated solely on donations from the public, responding to serious and life-threatening injuries it brings a major trauma unit to the patient vastly increases survival rates.
Wales Air Ambulance CEO Angela Hughes said: “We are really excited to move into our new home in the Welsh capital. It has been the culmination of 18 months hard work behind the scenes, which has only been possible thanks to the kindness and generosity of everyone who has donated, volunteered or played our Lifesaving Lottery. This new airbase and our children’s helicopter is funded solely by this incredible support.”
Helicopter transfer practitioner Andrew Morris said: “Working on-board the Children’s Wales Air Ambulance is nothing short of a privilege. We have an amazing team based here in Cardiff who are on standby to help some of Wales’ most vulnerable patients. No two days are the same on board the transfer helicopter. I’m honoured to do this job.”