Campaign for lights at hospital helipad so air ambulance can land in darkness

Calls for ‘let there be light’ have been made by the club behind a crowdfunding campaign to install landing lights at Pilgrim Hospital’s helipad.

The Air Ambulance currently cannot land or take off from Pilgrim Hospital's helipad during darkness.

The plans by the Rotary Club of Boston will allow Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance to use the helipad at night - transferring more patients there who need urgent and critical care.

Currently there are no lights at the helipad which means helicopters cannot land there during darkness hours.

Geoff Day from the Rotary club explained: “The landing site at Pilgrim is a designated Helipad, and under Civil Aviation Authority regulations it has to be equipped with specialist lighting to enable the Air Ambulance to operate from there at night. The lights give the pilot increased depth perception to enable a safe landing to be made.

Members of the Rotary Club of Boston discuss the campaign at the current helipad patch of grass at Pilgrim Hospital.

“The Rotary Club of Boston, in co-operation with other Rotary Clubs in Mid and South Lincolnshire, have decided this situation needs addressing and have set out to raise the £10,000 necessary to install approved lights at the Pilgrim Hospital helicopter landing pad.”

The club says the lights will be ‘state-of-the-art dual visual lights’ with also infra-red for when the crews need to land using night vision goggles.

Mr Day added: “The visual lights will be multi-brightness, and selectable from the cockpit of the helicopter.

“After being switched on they will automatically go out after 20 mins. An illuminated wind sock will also be erected to replace the existing un-lit wind sock.

“The entire installation will be eco-friendly being solar powered and requiring no mains electricity.”

Chief Pilot of the Air Ambulance, Captain Llewis Ingamells, who was born at Pilgrim Hospital himself, said: “Whilst we can land on scene using night vision goggles, we must have ground lighting at hospital landing sites. So come 4pm in the winter, Boston Pilgrim’s helipad currently closes for all air ambulances.

“By land, ambulance patients in the Boston area are approximately an hour and 20 minutes away from Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham, the nearest Major Trauma Centre. While we would, where possible, take a patient directly to an MTC, sometimes patients will be taken to the closet Trauma Unit (Pilgrim) before being transferred on to an MTC or a specialist hospital such as major burns at Birmingham or hand specialists at the Royal Derby hospital. Having the option to operate in the hours of darkness from Pilgrim means that LNAA are in a position to help assist our partner EMAS in such transfers if requested.

“Occasionally, a patient we’ve attended won’t require an MTC and our crew may escort a patient by road ambulance with the aircrew meeting them at hospital to retrieve the clinical crew. Again, this can currently only happen strictly through daylight hours. With lights at the hospital, it massively increases our operational capability and allows us to be available faster for the next patient.”

“We’re working hard to build aviation emergency service infrastructure into the east coast of Lincolnshire where our service is so often vitally needed. The new state-of-the-art helipad lighting system at Pilgrim will further our capabilities, mission options and in turn, patient care by allowing us to deliver patients, retrieve crew or even transfer a patient from Pilgrim to a specialist unit right through the darkness of nights.”

To support the campaign, visit the crowdfunding page.