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First Medical Evacuation Flight Lands on St Helena

The Dassault Falcon 20, landing from the southern approach (runway 02) at St Helena Airport.

The Dassault Falcon 20, landing from the southern approach (runway 02) at St Helena Airport.

A Baby Needs Urgent Medical Care | Sharon Henry

We are witnessing history at St Helena Airport once again. A Dassault Falcon 20 jet aircraft has landed safely for the island’s first emergency medical evacuation by air. This comes just a day after British Conservative Peer, Lord Michael Ashcroft published an article citing St Helena Airport as ‘dangerous.’

St Helena Government stated today in a press release, that a baby ‘needing urgent medical care’ is to be taken to Cape Town.

Successful Landing On First Attempt

The recently certified airport has made this service possible and the infant should reach the Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town within hours, instead of five days by ship, as has been the case before now.

The first air medevac flight arriving at St Helena Airport, a Guardian Air, Dassault Falcon 20.

The first air medevac flight arriving at St Helena Airport, a Guardian Air, Dassault Falcon 20.

Touching down at 13:53 on Friday 3 June, 2016, a Guardian Air, Dassault Falcon 20, air ambulance arrives at St Helena Island becoming the very first air medevac flight to land. On board is a medical team from South African, ER24, Emergency Medical Services. The aircraft landed from the southern approach, (runway 02) as wind shear which affects the northern approach continues to be investigated.

Touching down at 13:53 on Friday 3 June, 2016, a Guardian Air, Dassault Falcon 20, air ambulance arrives at St Helena Island becoming the very first air medevac flight to land. On board is a medical team from South African, ER24, Emergency Medical Services. The aircraft landed from the southern approach, (runway 02) as wind shear which affects the northern approach continues to be investigated.

Gwyneth Howell, Head of Operations St Helena Airport told us, “We activated the evacuation last night (Thursday). They made a decision this morning. They flew through to Walvis (Namibia), then from Walvis through to the airport and landed successfully on runway 02 without even doing a missed approach.”

Africa’s Air Ambulance Service

The Dassault Falcon 20 jet aircraft which landed has been customised by South African air ambulance company, Guardian Air. The medical team on onboard are part of the ER24 Emergency Medical Services, also based in South Africa.

“It’s a fairly elderly aircraft,” said Gwyneth, “but quite reliable, especially for these long ranges. It’s quite suitable for this type of trip.”

 

The Guardian Air, Dassault Falcon 20, air ambulance met by the St Helena Airport ambulance ready to transport the medevac team from ER24 to the Jamestown hospital.

The Guardian Air, Dassault Falcon 20, air ambulance met by the St Helena Airport ambulance ready to transport the medevac team from ER24 to the Jamestown hospital.

Head of Operations St Helena Airport, Gwyneth Howell.

Head of Operations St Helena Airport, Gwyneth Howell.

ER24 medical team on board, the St Helena Airport ambulance begins the journey from the airport to the Jamestown hospital, driving through the rocky landscape of Prosperous Bay Plain.

ER24 medical team on board, the St Helena Airport ambulance begins the journey from the airport to the Jamestown hospital, driving through the rocky landscape of Prosperous Bay Plain.

The team on board brought their own medical equipment which was immediately taken to the hospital in Jamestown and will be used to support the patient during the flight out. This saves limited hospital equipment leaving the island with a patient.

ETOPS Calls For Overnight Stay

The Falcon 20 touched down from a southern approach at 13:53 pm (GMT). We noticed a slight ‘wobble’ just before landing. However, Gwyneth was told by the pilot, β€œthe landing was perfect, the weather was perfect.”

As a safety precaution the aircraft won’t make the journey to Cape Town until tomorrow, Saturday, taking into consideration ETOPS and daylight flying amongst other things.

Saints’ Number One Reason For Air Access

Although certified, the official opening of St Helena Airport has been stalled because of wind shear problems. The Falcon 20 is therefore only the fourth fixed winged aircraft to land on the new runway since the very first airplane landed in September 2015.

ER24 medical team on board, the St Helena Airport ambulance begins the journey from the airport to the Jamestown hospital, driving through the rocky landscape of Prosperous Bay Plain.

ER24 medical team on board, the St Helena Airport ambulance begins the journey from the airport to the Jamestown hospital, driving through the rocky landscape of Prosperous Bay Plain.

Because of this delay, the RMS St Helena continues to be the only means of travel, to and from the island. The next call of the ship is scheduled for 28 June (3 weeks and 4 days time) as she is away on an extended one-off voyage to UK.

Many Saints will tell you their paramount reason for wanting an airport is to facilitate faster medical evacuations. This flight landing is therefore a defining moment in St Helena’s history.

“I’m very proud of the team,” said Gwyneth after today’s smooth operation. β€œAll I can say to the Saints is well done, you’ve got an awesome airport and it’s gonna work.”

The Guardian Air, Dassault Falcon 20, air ambulance taxiing back along the runway after a successful landing. The St Helena Airport, DVOR radar is visible in the foreground.

The Guardian Air, Dassault Falcon 20, air ambulance taxiing back along the runway after a successful landing. The St Helena Airport, DVOR navigation aid is visible in the foreground.

UPDATE 4 JUNE – FIRST AIR MEDEVAC FROM ST HELENA

St Helena’s first air medevac patient flew out of St Helena Airport on Saturday 4 June at 7.34am, with an estimated flight time of 3 hour and 58 minutes to Cape Town. Also on board was a doctor, paramedic, an engineer and three pilots. The flight, with baby and mother, arrived safely in Cape Town.

This is a momentous occasion for the island.

The next morning, 6.30am, refuelling the Falcon in preparation for the flight back to Cape Town. A typical, overcast morning for this time of year on St Helena.

The next morning, 6.30am, refuelling the Falcon in preparation for the flight back to Cape Town. A typical, overcast morning for this time of year on St Helena.

Escorted by police, the ambulance arriving at the airport with medevac patient inside.

Escorted by police, the ambulance arriving at the airport with medevac patient inside.

07:15. The emergency teams complete the loading of medevac patients onto the air ambulance.

07:15. The emergency teams complete the loading of medevac patient onto the air ambulance.

07:34. Beneath the bulk of King & Queen Rock and Prosperous Bay House on St Helena, the Guardian Air, Falcon 20, accelerates along the runway during take off.

07:34. Beneath the bulk of King & Queen Rock and Prosperous Bay House on St Helena, the Guardian Air, Falcon 20, accelerates along the runway during take off.

07:34, 4 June 2016. History is made as the very first medical evacuation by air from St Helena, lifts off from the new airport on Prosperous Bay Plain. The Dassault Falcon 20, operated by Guardian Air, begins the flight to Cape Town, estimated to take 3hr 58mins, much faster than the previous 5 day voyage by ship for all medevacs from St Helena. On board, a mother and a newborn baby needing specialist care.

07:34, 4 June 2016. History is made as the very first medical evacuation by air from St Helena, lifts off from the new airport on Prosperous Bay Plain. The Dassault Falcon 20, operated by Guardian Air, begins the flight to Cape Town, estimated to take 3hr 58mins, much faster than the previous 5 day voyage by ship for all medevacs from St Helena. On board, a mother and a newborn baby needing specialist care.

The first ever medevac by air from St Helena takes off into an overcast morning.

The first ever medevac by air from St Helena takes off into an overcast morning.

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