Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Health
Air Ambulance Service
407. To ask the Minister for Health if four of the five helicopters in use for inter-helicopter transfers are not capable of landing on the rooftop planned for the new national children’s hospital; if the aviation providers were consulted in the process of the design of the new national children’s hospital; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that at night-time the helicopters will have to land at Dublin Airport and transport sick children by ambulance to the new national children’s hospital in view of the fact none of the five helicopters will be able to land on the proposed helipad; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9601/19]
There will be an elevated helipad at the new children's hospital, which will have direct and rapid access to the critical care, theatre and emergency departments within the hospital. This enhanced direct and rapid access will improve clinical outcomes for the sickest children and young people.
The helipad has been designed in close consultation with the National Ambulance Service Aeromedical Liaison Service who are responsible for providing helicopter services to hospitals. The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board also consulted with the Irish Aviation Authority and the Air Corps who are the primary provider of paediatric helicopter services to the National Ambulance Service.
When reviewing the alternatives with the Irish Aviation Authority and the Air Corps, they recommended against a ground helipad due to the constrained flight paths and obstacle clearance. Use of elevated landing sites on the roof of hospitals is widespread in the UK and Europe and many of the recently completed Paediatric hospitals have elevated helipads.
The Air Corps is the primary provider of paediatric helicopter services to the National Ambulance Service. Air Corps helicopters comprising Augusta Westland AW139 can land on a raised landing site or the roof of a building which is designed and certified for such operations. The Irish Coast Guard provides reserve support to the National Ambulance Service, when required, through its Sikorsky S92 search and rescue fleet primarily for search and rescue missions. The Sikorsky S92 helicopters are not licensed to land on helipads and, for access to the St. James's Campus, will land in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham from which patients will be transferred in an ambulance by road, as is current practice.
The majority of patient transfers to the three Dublin children’s hospitals are completed by road. In any major emergency rescue in a rural area, a Sikorsky Helicopter will bring the patient to the nearest regional hospital for stabilisation resulting in an appropriately planned transfer to the new children’s hospital.