Hospital helipad destroyed by USAF aircraft is cleared
- Credit: Trailspotter
Air ambulances are now able to land at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge after debris was cleared following damage during a US Air Force training operation.
The Cambridge hospital is the region's major trauma centre and treats the most desperately ill patients from the area, including from Suffolk - making the ability to land at the hospital vital.
But it was left without a functional helipad after ripped up by the draught from a departing US Air Force (USAF) CV22 Osprey on Wednesday.
The Osprey, which is based at RAF Mildenhall, was taking part in a medical evacuation exercise at the time.
As a result of the incident, critically ill patients in the region were having to be flown to Cambridge City Airport instead - three miles away, meaning an extra journey to Addenbrooke's by land ambulance.
Cambridge University NHS Foundation Trust confirmed on Friday afternoon that a work-around had been found for the time being, after debris was removed from the area and safety checks carried out.
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Air ambulances are now able to land directly at Addenbrooke's, albeit in an area of grass close to the usual helipad.
Work to repair the damaged helipad is expected to begin soon.
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A spokesman for the Cambridge University NHS Foundation Trust said: “Air ambulances are now able to land again at Addenbrooke's Hospital, close to the usual helipad site."
A spokesman for RAF Mildenhall said on Friday the USAF was "taking steps to rectify" the damage as soon as possible.
Major Keavy Rake, from the public affairs department at the Suffolk air base, said: "The 352d Special Operations Wing, located at RAF Mildenhall, recently conducted a simulated medical evacuation training scenario at Addenbrooke’s Hospital to assist in providing local forces with a casualty evacuation capability.
"This was the first time we have conducted operations on the Addenbrooke’s helicopter landing zone.
"Planners for the exercise assessed the area of execution prior to the exercise and coordinated with both, the manufacturer of the landing pad, hospital staff and the Addenbrooke’s East Anglian Air Ambulance units.
"Unfortunately, the training caused damage to the helipad - however, no-one was injured and there was no damage to any aircraft.
"The US forces and UK MoD are coordinating to rectify the situation as quickly as possible, and will continue to work with local partners to return the area to its original state.
"All debris in the area was cleared by the USAF and MoD teams within 24 hours and the intention is for the pad to be replaced.
"We regret any disruption caused to the hospital and the associated emergency services, and truly appreciate their understanding and the long standing relationship and partnership between the US and UK."