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Southampton General Hospital is celebrating the first anniversary of the hospital's onsite helipad.
This life saving piece of equipment, which officially opened on 17th November 2011, received its first two patient landings within hours of being declared open and fit for purpose. It has since helped to significantly speed up transfer times for well over 300 critically ill and injured patients, averaging almost one landing per day.
The most common time for landings within the first year has been between 9am and 6pm with statistics showing that there have been 253 landings to date between these times.
Fridays and Sundays have generally seen the most traffic with 41 and 40 landings respectively between November 2011 and November 2012.
The most common patients to use the helipad have been those with major trauma followed by those with severe medical conditions such as heart attacks. As expected, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance has been the most frequent user with 206 landings. However, the Coastguard, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance, the RAF, the Police and many others have all also used the helipad.
Prior to having the onsite helipad patients travelling to Southampton General Hospital via air ambulance had to land at Lordshill playing fields before being driven the final two miles by road ambulance - a transfer that could use up to half of the 'Golden Hour'- the term commonly used for the first 60 minutes following critically illness or injury.
Southampton General Hospital has been working towards an onsite helipad for some time before the opening last year, but required financial support in order to get the project off the ground. That is where the HELP Appeal, a charity established by the County Air Ambulance Trust to help fund much needed helipad facilities at emergency departments across the country, stepped in and provided a £1 million grant to pay for the construction.
Michael Rosser, aged 47, is one of the patients who has benefited from the helipad at Southampton General Hospital. Michael was severely injured following a helicopter crash near Salisbury in January 2012. With several broken ribs, a broken sternum, broken shoulder and arm, in addition to internal injuries, Michael was transferred by the air ambulance to Southampton General Hospital where he was treated for five weeks. He has now made a full recovery.
Of his experience, Michael said:
"I was obviously a little nervous about my transfer via helicopter following the nature of my accident. However, I couldn't be more grateful that I was able to be transferred to the hospital by this method. The helicopter transfer significantly reduced the time it took to get to Southampton General Hospital from over an hour to less than fifteen minutes, which is clearly life-saving. Without the onsite helipad, I honestly don't know what could have happened - I might not be here today. It is a fantastic facility and I am extremely grateful to the Air Ambulance and Hospital Staff who played a part in my recovery."
Dr Andy Eynon, Director of Major Trauma, Southampton General Hospital said:
"There is no doubt that the helipad has been life-saving and a fantastic addition to the facilities here at Southampton General Hospital. Michael is just one of many patients who have benefited from the helipad and with over 300 landings taking place in the past year, it is evident that the helipad has been a great success with transfer times being significantly reduced. Southampton is one of only twelve major trauma centres for treating both children and adults in the UK. We are extremely grateful for the support from the HELP Appeal and know the helipad will continue to help save the lives of critically ill patients for years to come."
Commenting on the first anniversary, Robert Bertram, Charity Director at County Air Ambulance Trust, HELP Appeal, said;
"This is a really special day for us. Southampton General Hospital was the first major project that we funded as part of our national HELP Appeal scheme and the statistics speak for themselves, it's been a real success.
"The helipad has helped hundreds of critically ill and injured patients from across the region to get to the specialist treatment they need as quickly as possible, saving many lives. This helipad showcases just how important it is for every hospital across the country to have access to safe onsite landing facilities.
"The HELP Appeal relies entirely on charitable donations and our fundraising efforts continue. We're calling on the local community to get behind us and to donate whatever they can by calling 0800 3898 999 or visiting www.helpappeal.co.uk to help us help to save lives. Our dream is that every major hospital across the country has access to an onsite helipad but we can't make this a reality without your support and donations."