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Wales enhances patient care and night-time service with H145s
A custom-built H145 helicopter has begun operations at Wales Air Ambulance's airbase in Welshpool as part of a new fleet.
Read this story in our May 2017 printed issue.

A custom-built H145 helicopter has begun operations at Wales Air Ambulance's airbase in Welshpool as part of a new fleet. Providing coverage across mid and north Wales, the Airbus Helicopters model is the second of three helicopters being introduced this year by the charity, which are set to increase mission effectiveness.

Wales Air Ambulance is the third HEMS operation in the UK to use the H145 aircraft after the Scottish Ambulance Service and Yorkshire Air Ambulance. When all three units are in service the fleet, which is operated on behalf of the charity by Babcock Mission Critical Services Onshore, will be the largest in the UK. The newcomer replaces the EC135 model that entered service in 2012.

Equipped with advanced night flying capability, the H145 moves the charity a step closer to its goal of providing a 24-hour air ambulance service. The aircraft also has a larger cabin and more powerful engines than its forerunner, resulting in extra room and fewer fuel stops.

Operations manager Mark Winter says: "The H145 is a much more advanced machine, meaning we can do so much more for the people we help. The cabin is larger and has more light, so we can access patients easily in-flight and have room for all our medical equipment.

"When we introduced the EC135 to Welshpool five years ago we were excited it had a fourth seat for an additional medic or the parent of an injured child. Now we have five seats, which gives us even more scope for specialist medical passengers.

"One of the biggest differences is the H145's night flying capability. The cockpit is set up for night vision technology. We have a weather radar, additional lights underneath and a tracker light on the front, which is like a giant torch and is incredibly powerful. These new features will make a difference to the work we can do after dark."

Wales Air Ambulance chief executive Angela Hughes adds: "The arrival of the H145 marks a new era. With continued fundraising this aircraft will support our aim to progress to a 24-hour operation, so we can help anyone in their most difficult hour.

“It's thanks to the kind support we receive from volunteers and fundraisers that we have secured these incredible helicopters. Step by step we're getting closer to becoming 24/7. By joining our Lifesaving Lottery or volunteering a few hours of time, we can make this a reality for everyone in Wales."

The first H145 helicopter arrived at Wales Air Ambulance's base in Llanelli in April and a third will join the fleet in Caernarfon over the summer.

The organisation's fourth helicopter, dedicated to neonatal, paediatric and adult transfers across Wales, is an EC135 and this operates from the charity's base in Cardiff.