BORDER COUNCILLORS CHALLENGE AIR AMBULANCE MOVE.

November 24, 2022 9:24 AM
Originally published by Heather Kidd

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Four Councillors from Shropshire and Powys are challenging the assumptions made by the Welsh Air Ambulance in their proposal to move from Welshpool Airport after discussions with airport management.

Lib Dem Councillors Danny Bebb (Powys- Churchstoke) Nigel Hartin (Shropshire - Clun), Ruth Houghton (Shropshire - Bishop's Castle) and Heather Kidd (Shropshire- Chirbury and Worthen) were appalled by the suggestion that our area should lose this key facility.

Cllr Danny Bebb said: "The Air Ambulance have put forward a number of reasons behind this proposed move. Prominent amongst these is the supposed lack of ability to operate at night from Welshpool. From our discussion with the management at Welshpool Airport this is patently not the case."

Councillors confirmed with Welshpool airport:

  1. i The airport is available for all aviation to use 24hrs by arrangement but the Air Ambulance is self-supporting and have access 24/7. They also have their own autonomous refuelling system.
  2. ii Specific aircraft in the Wales Ambulance fleet are equipped with Night vision capability and all pilots are trained to fly at night.

iii. The Ambulance could potentially be tasked to a job anywhere in the country or in the border counties so the Mid Wales location is ideal as they can travel in all directions with a relatively short flight time

Ruth Houghton added "Air ambulances operate on both sides of the border according to circumstance and availability. Adding another 20 minutes plus flight time to potential rescue flights would create a potentially big gap in capability not just in Mid Mid Wales but Shropshire too. With our ground-based ambulance service so badly stretched, this could create serious problems"

Nigel Hartin added " The Welsh Air Ambulance and the West Midlands Air Ambulance both operate in our area and many Community Councils and local groups fundraise for both. It impact quite significantly on the money raised for the latter if they went ahead with this proposal, which frankly looks like a cost-cutting exercise.

Danny Bebb concluded: "Basing these helicopters only on the North Wales coast and the Vale of Glamorgan would be a travesty. Those areas have good road networks and several large hospitals. In rural Powys and Shropshire we need the rapid response times these helicopters give to allow many patients a chance of survival."

The four councillors have now asked for a special meeting with the Air Ambulance and Heather Kidd is, at next week's cabinet meeting, going to ask Shropshire Council's Cabinet to lobby the Air Ambulance against proceeding with this option.