Cornwall air ambulances seek night landing sites

Cornwall Air Ambulance
Image caption New air ambulances in Cornwall will be able to fly in darkness for the first time from December

Cornwall's air ambulance charity is seeking landing sites across the county that are suitable for dealing with night-time emergencies.

The county will have two aircraft from December that can fly after dark.

The charity is asking people and communities with potential sites to consider offering them.

Staff and pilots said approved sites would allow quicker pre-flight planning after a call-out and speed up response times.

There are currently about 40 designated community daytime landing places in Cornwall.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) restrictions affect where the aircraft can take off and land during the hours of darkness.

One place that has stepped forward to volunteer for night landings is Helston Cricket Club.

Bar manager Terry Rustell said: "It's open, there are no trees, no overhead cables, and there's easy access to the main road.

"In the summer, roads are so chocka, but the air ambulance can get through. It saves time, it saves lives."

Pilot David Burgess, from new aircraft operator Specialist Aviation Services, said: "Accidents and incidents are no respecter of daylight hours.

"We can find landing sites ad-hoc but we need a fair amount of pre-flight planning and map study.

"If we've got a number of sites available - we know the area, the obstacles - we can get to scenes much more expeditiously."

Charity chief executive Paula Martin said: "If we can shorten flight planning by having pre-prepared sites, then that can speed up the responses."

However, new air ambulances in Cornwall and Devon will not be able to make night-time landings at the counties' major trauma centre, Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, because its helipad does not meet air safety standards for landing at night.

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