It was in 2006 that the East Anglian Air Ambulance agreed to extend their helicopter services to cover Bedfordshire. Previously the charity, formed in 2000, only served Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. At the time it was necessary for a Bedfordshire Appeal to raise funds to meet this new obligation and the Rotary Club was pleased to offer its support both in terms of cash and fundraising. Subsequently the charity has featured regularly in the Club’s annual charity donations. Now a new appeal has been launched and the Club will be offering its support again.
One of the weak points in the service has been the lack of a helicopter landing facility at either of the 2 main hospitals in the county. In the case of the L&D Hospital the helicopter has to land in a school field half a mile away and the patient then travels by land ambulance for the last stage of the trip. The proposal is to build a roof-top helipad which will be linked to the Emergency Department and critical care units to ensure that everyone who needs specialist emergency care can access it easily and quickly. The Emergency Department is renowned as one of the best in the country and treats over 90,000 people each year, 25% of whom have life-threatening injuries requiring immediate and specialist medical care.
Adding a helipad to the building is not straightforward. As well as strengthening the building and adding the helipad itself there needs to be a spiral ramp leading to lift access to the Emergency Department, adequate lighting so that it can be used 24 hours a day, and an automated fire system for possible emergencies. The total cost is £7million. Much of this cost has already been found from grants and donations but there is a now a public appeal to raise the final £1.5million.
If you would like to help visit www.justgiving.com/ldhhelipad where you can donate. Alternatively there is a link on the Rotary club website www.bartonleclayrotary.org.uk with more details.
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