The Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance’s teams and crew moved into a new, purpose-built headquarters on HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) Way at RAF Waddington, and HRH, The Earl of Wessex, officially opened the building last year.
The clinical and aviation operation had formerly been based at RAF Waddington with the staff situated in Bracebridge Heath, so the development of HEMS Way gave everyone the opportunity to be under one roof for the first time.
We were invited to have a look behind the scenes at how the staff and medical personnel at the charity are getting on in their new facility, and to meet the amazing team who fly across the county and beyond to help those in their hour of need.
One of the most important aspects of the new HQ, CEO Karen Jobling said, is that now anyone visiting the site is immediately greeted by the magnificent yellow helicopter sitting on the runway.
“It’s important for our sponsors and fundraisers to see where their hard work and money is going.
“When they come and visit us, they can see it right there and they have an immediate connection to the helicopter as they enter the centre.
“They can see instantly where their money goes and it’s wonderful.”
The original HQ for the ‘ambucopter’ was just over the road at RAF Waddington when the charity first was established in 1994.
“We asked Waddington if we could temporarily use their site to work from, and 26 years later we’re still there!” Karen said.
“The clinical and aviation operation had formerly been based at RAF Waddington with the staff situated in Bracebridge Heath, so now we’re all under one roof for the first time and everyone can feel that connection with the helicopter.”
The helicopter, a Gusta Westland 169, can reach anywhere within the county in an average of around 15 minutes, with top speeds of up to 220mph.
Another benefit of the new HQ is that the helicopter has a refuelling station right on the runway, whereas before refuelling would have to take place at RAF Waddington.
The air ambulance’s critical care car is also housed inside the hangar at the new HQ, to get to places that would be difficult for the air ambulance.
“If there was an incident in Lincoln city centre it’s much easier for a car to zip through the city centre than for the helicopter to try and find somewhere safe to land,” Karen said.
Another wonderful addition to the new headquarters is a family room where those who have been treated by the air ambulance can come back with their families to meet the team who saved their loved ones’ life.
As well as a comfy sofa and activities for children, there is also a blackboard where thank you messages can be left by the patient or their family.
But all of this is only made possible by the air ambulance’s supporters, as the charity is not funded by the NHS and needs to raise more than £7 million each year to keep operational.
To find out more about the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance, please visit the charity’s website at www.ambucopter.org.uk/