The helipad on top of the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) has had 164 landings by Air Ambulance NI since the first test flight on 18 February 2020. The first patient was brought to the RVH helipad which is on the 12th storey of the Critical Care Centre, just days after the test flight by the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) air ambulance team.

It has meant that Northern Ireland’s most seriously ill and injured patients have been able to access the hospital’s emergency department and specialist trauma services in just a couple of minutes after landing in the air ambulance. The hospital hosts Northern Ireland’s Major Trauma Centre providing major trauma services to a catchment area of 1.8m residents.

Before the helipad was built, patients arriving by air ambulance had to land at Musgrave Park Hospital or at George Best Belfast City Airport before being transported to the RVH by road ambulance, which could take up to 25 minutes.

Dr Cathy Jack, Chief Executive of Belfast Trust, congratulated Air Ambulance NI for a year of great achievements:

“The Air Ambulance NI is a vital part of our emergency care delivery across NI. Over the past very challenging year with the Covid-19 Pandemic there have been over 160 patients transported straight to the Major Trauma centre in the RVH in the first year.”

“Every minute saved in the transfer of a critically ill patient increases their chance of a successful recovery. Having a helipad above the Emergency Department (ED) at the Royal Victoria Hospital where we have skilled teams ready to receive them, means the patient receives the right care, with the right team at the right time and in the right place.”

“The installation of the helipad at Royal Victoria Hospital was a huge step forward for the region in ensuring that patient’s accesses trauma care (get the very best care) – as quickly as possible and therefore better chance of successful recovery.”

NIAS Medical Director, Doctor Nigel Ruddell reflected on the past year saying:

“When we watched Helimed23 first touchdown on the roof of the Royal a year ago, none of us knew just what a tumultuous year it was going to be for health services right around the world and yet throughout this time the team have continued to provide the highest standard of care to critically ill patients across all of Northern Ireland.”

Glenn O’Rorke, NIAS Operational Lead for the HEMS team added:

“Many of our patients are critically ill or injured where their life is in balance.  Our team provides critical care at scene including surgical procedures, anaesthetic and administering blood – ultimately, we want to get the patient to definitive care as soon as possible.  Having access to the RVH helipad means we can arrive from anywhere in Northern Ireland within 25 minutes and that really does help save lives.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Helipad Team at RVH for their fantastic work with our crew ensuring swift and safe access to the helipad.”

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