Helipad opens thanks to EADT readers

A POTENTIALLY life-saving helipad which will shave valuable minutes off the time it takes to get patients into a hospital casualty department has been officially unveiled.

A POTENTIALLY life-saving helipad which will shave valuable minutes off the time it takes to get patients into a hospital casualty department has been officially unveiled.

The £25,000 facility next to the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds is now up and running – thanks to the generous readers of the East Anglian Daily Times who paid for the project just four months after a fund-raising campaign began.

Paramedics from the East Anglian Air Ambulance said yesterday the helipad would enable them to transport patients into the hospital's accident and emergency department in a quarter of the time.

“Every paramedic who has come to the hospital and tried to pull a trolley across the grass said they wanted something a little more permanent,” paramedic John Stone said.


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“Patients were being put at risk and even paramedics were at risk of injury. I can remember landing after a road accident in the winter and there was sleet and rain and we all got drenched.

“But this new helipad is fantastic and we can now go straight through to casualty. This is great news for patients and should ensure as comfortable a ride as possible right through to hospital.”

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Prior to the vital helipad, trust paramedics were forced to land on football pitches on Hardwick Heath where patients had to endure treacherous terrain before entering A&E.

Stuart Richards experienced this arduous journey after an accident in the centre of Lavenham left him with a punctured lung, several shattered bones and severe internal bleeding.

Describing his trip to the West Suffolk, Mr Richards, who fell almost six metres while working on scaffolding, said: “Luckily enough it was dry but I still remember every bump when I was dragged across the grass. But the new helipad is fantastic and I am very impressed with how it has turned out.”

Launched by the EADT in July, the campaign to pay for the helipad caught the imagination of the public who quickly set about raising the funds.

Air ambulance trustee David Barker, who helped kick-start the campaign, said: “We wanted the ownership of this helipad to go to the people of Suffolk and that is why we went to them and asked the community to play such a big part in building it.

“I am not surprised that it didn't take long to raise the money – I just knew people would respond fantastically and it would be something they would identify with.”

EADT editor Terry Hunt said: “We are all aware of the magnificent work the air ambulance does, has done and continues to do so.

“It must have been very difficult to push patients across a bumpy, muddy surface and that is why we decided to support the venture.

“The magnificent readers of the EADT have once again come up trumps. The helipad has obvious benefits to local people and is such an impressive addition providing a magnificent life saving surface.”

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