Babcock has unveiled new tools to help UK air ambulance teams stay safe when responding to the COVID-19 virus.
Babcock operates a fleet of over 20 charity-funded air ambulances across Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales. By drawing on the experiences of its air ambulance experts in Spain, Italy and France, the company created a new framework system that allows UK H145 air ambulances to fly with specialist patient isolation pods that work with on-board medical systems.
Babcock engineers in the UK and Spain have also collaborated on the design and development of a new on-board barrier which separates the medical teams from the flight crews on all their international fleet of air ambulance helicopters. This has since been customised by teams in Staverton, Gloucestershire, and following rapid prototyping by Babcock in Devonport the system is fully approved for use on EC135, H145 and AW109 air ambulance helicopters.
In a statement, Babcock Engineering Project Manager, Steve Hughes, said: “Projects like these would normally take several months but, using new guidance from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the UK Civil Aviation Authority, we have accelerated this process to just a few weeks. It’s a fantastic achievement by everyone involved, being able to offer this capability will make a huge difference.
“We’ve been working with teams all over the world, throughout the industry to fast-track developments in the fight against COVID-19 and to keep our air ambulances flying. I think some of the lessons learnt here will change how we work forever.”
Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) teams are working to save lives and support national health services. Babcock teams in Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, the Nordics and the UK are witnessing the crisis first-hand.
“We are determined to keep flying to support our customers, providing frontline services and helping to save lives,” said Neal Misell, Chief Executive of Babcock’s Aviation Sector. “We have found new and innovative ways of providing enhanced PPE for our pilots and medics, and segregation from patients through isolation pods and aircraft barriers.”