Success of mercy trip by helicopter

By IoM Today Reporter   |   Reporter   |
Saturday 4th April 2020 9:00 am
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Helicopter in mercy mission

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An island business tycoon joined forces with government officials and others to get a vital piece of equipment to Noble’s Hospital within a matter of hours.

The full story of the helicopter mission of mercy only officially emerged yesterday (Thursday).

It began at 10.30am last Saturday, when Dr Rachel Glover told officials there was a pressing need for a calibration plate that was essential to start up the on-island coronavirus testing.

A spokesman said that unfortunately, the plate being shipped by courier to the island was stranded at East Midlands Airport and potentially wouldn’t be arriving for at least five days.

The dilemma started an interesting and time critical turn of events.

The first step was to try to find a means of getting to East Midlands Airport as the package was now going overland in UK.

Jon Wild, of Callin Wild, contacted a local helicopter pilot who in turn put a call to the owner of the helicopter he pilots, John Whittaker, chairman of Peel Group.

The tracking details of the plate were ascertained and a full brief about the real urgency and need for the plate was obtained and explained to Mr Whittaker.

The businessman immediately approved the use of the helicopter.

The next problem was to locate the package and extract it out of the courier’s supply process.

Through the use of local contacts Mr Wild established that the parcel was about to leave East Midlands Airport by road on its way to Southampton.

Although it might have delayed matters if the helicopter could not make the trip, a quick decision was made to try to intercept the parcel and stop it leaving East Midlands Airport, which enabled the parcel to be offloaded. As part of his preparations for the flight, the pilot needed a pass to gain re-entry to the Isle of Man, which are currently only issued by the Chief Secretary.

The spokesman said: ’Thanks to the wonderful efforts of individuals across several departments within Isle of Man Government the necessary information required to issue the certificate was provided at very short notice and the pilot was released to retrieve the package, which was delivered to Dr Glover a mere seven hours after her initial request.

’A real difference was made by a local resident’s individual generosity and a team of unconnected people all working together from both public and private sectors.’

Dr Rachel Glover, a molecular and computational biologist who is currently part-time seconded to the path lab later said on Twitter: ’It’s not every day you can tell someone at 9.30am you have an RNaseP calibration plate stuck on dry ice at East Midlands airport and by 5pm it’s delivered by private chopper.

’It’s amazing the things that are made possible while we’re trying to get on-island testing up and running. So many people are willing and able to help.’

And path lab boss Stephen Doyle wrote on Twitter: ’So many integration threads came together here. Lots of "can do" people and no meetings needed.

’This will be what’s needed to beat the virus. I’m proud and thankful of you all.’