Wiltshire Air Ambulance carried out its first landing on the helipad at the charity’s new airbase at Semington, near Melksham, yesterday (Tuesday 20 March).
This exciting milestone was followed by the official handover of the airbase to Wiltshire Air Ambulance. The building will now be fitted out before the charity’s fundraising, administrative and operational teams move in by this summer.
David Philpott, Chief Executive of Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: “Today has been a significant day in the history of Wiltshire Air Ambulance with the handover of our new airbase. We are now in the final phase of the building work as we undertake the fitting and equipping of it before it becomes operational.
“Our primary contractors, Rigg Construction (Southern) Limited, and our architects and project managers, CMS, have ensured that our new home has the best possible facilities for our helicopter, our pilots, paramedics and our charity team to enable us to continue to save lives in the future.
“We have received amazing support from people for our new airbase, including donations, and we’d like to thank everyone for their backing.”
Currently the charity leases offices in Calne for its fundraising and administrative team and leases the hangar at Wiltshire Police headquarters in Devizes for its helicopter and aircrew.
The new airbase has a Flight and Operations Centre for its aircrew, a hangar for the helicopter and medical equipment, offices for the charity team, training suite and a visitors’ viewpoint.
Kevin Reed, Head of Facilities and Security at Wiltshire Air Ambulance, has led the new airbase project on behalf of the charity and said the site at Semington was chosen after an exhaustive search.
He said: “When we became a stand-alone air ambulance three years ago our aspiration was to find a location to build the best possible airbase to bring together our charity and operational teams and to have full control over our future.
“The site at Semington is ideal because it is centrally located and will allow our helicopter to reach all parts of Wiltshire within 11 minutes, as it currently does now from its base in Devizes. In addition, as there is no ambulance station in Melksham our paramedics with their critical care skills will provide enhanced medical cover for the area for emergencies such as road traffic collisions, cardiac arrests and strokes.”
The fly in and handover of the new airbase took place a few days after Wiltshire Air Ambulance marked its 28th anniversary. During that time its highly trained aircrew have undertaken thousands of missions and saved countless lives.