A team from the island’s air ambulance service has been to Caernarfon in North Wales for special training on the helicopter used in bad weather emergencies.
In normal conditions the air ambulance uses a dedicated fixed-wing aircraft operating out of Ronaldsway, but in poor weather conditions such as very high winds and fog these aircraft are unable to fly.
That’s where the specialised Sikorsky S-92 helicopters operated by the UK’s search and rescue team come into action, taking emergency patients to Liverpool Airport and then on to a range of specialist hospitals.
When needed, the helicopter can be requested at any time of the day or night and will be at the Noble’s Hospital helipad within 60 minutes, assisted by the Isle of Man Coastguard, which acts as the local ground team.
The team of nine doctors and nurses visited the Welsh search and rescue base - one of 10 across the UK - for a special briefing covering on-board orientation, safety, communications and service logistics.
The training was led by search and rescue paramedic, Chris Bradshaw, along with a number of his colleagues at Caernarfon.
Speaking after attending the training, consultant anaesthetist and medical lead for the air ambulance team, Dr Kate Teare, said: ’Although we only make use of the helicopter when we have a patient who needs urgent life-saving treatment, and the weather makes other aircraft unusable, it’s vital that the team are fully trained and ready to go.
’Working in one of these aircraft is completely different to any other environment. It’s very noisy, often turbulent and with engines running and rotors still turning, so we need to make sure that all the medical and nursing team are comfortable working in these kind of conditions.
’We don’t use the emergency helicopter service that often, but whenever we do we can be sure that the team all know their jobs and can focus on delivering the highest standard of patient care.’