IT HAS saved the lives
of hundreds of critically
ill patients who may
not have survived had it
not been there.
Today Southampton General
Hospital’s iconic helipad celebrates
the first anniversary of its
first helicopter landing, with
medics knowing that it has meant
the difference between life and
death for so many.
Since the launch a year ago
today, there have been 319 flights
that have landed on the £1.2m helipad
on top of the hospital car park
– averaging at almost one flight a
It took a 15-year fight to get it,
but having seen its success on a
daily basis with seriously ill
patients rushed down the ramp
into accident and emergency within
90 seconds with military precision
– those who went into battle
have no doubts that it was worth
the wait.
Hopes for success were quickly
realised on the day of the first lift-off, when the helipad was called
into action for a second emergency
within minutes of the first
patients landing.
And it has continued in that vein
ever since.
The Hampshire and Isle of
Wight Air Ambulance has made
the majority of landings, visiting a
total of 206 times in the past 12
months, with the Coastguard making
up 13 per cent of the landings.
One flight doctor, who got an
unwanted insight into life as a
patient landing on the helipad he
campaigned for with colleague Dr
Charles Deakin, Dr David Sutton,
has been overwhelmed by its success.
The consultant
anaesthetist was
on the first flight
to land with a
patient on the
helipad but
months later
the tables were
turned and he
became the
pat i e n t
he was hit by a car at the scene of
an emergency he had flown to.
He said: “The helipad is fantastic.
It has exceeded our expectations
and our expectations were
pretty high.
“It took a long time to persuade
people that it was necessary but
since it has opened it has become
“It has been life-saving, there is
no doubt about that.
Our furthest flight came from
Exeter with a man who had fallen
off some scaffolding. He was
bleeding into his brain and had
there been any delay in getting
him to our neurological centre, he
wouldn’t have made a full recovery.
“The helipad has also allowed
us to fly intensive care patients,
who are fully ventilated, safely
and quickly.
“We had one patient that we
were able to fly back to the Isle of
Wight, which not only freed a
bed in Southampton, it also
allowed the patient to be closer to
“I believe we have the best helipad
in the country and it is very
exciting to know we have it here
in Southampton.”