Help us make night time flight time
Community landing sites
We're delighted to be working with communities throughout Devon to establish a network of landing sites to support our night flying operations.
As the network of landing sites is steadily growing we arre able to offer communities an extended service until midnight.
If you would like to find out of there is a night landing site being developed in your area please check out our landing sites by looking on the one in progress in your area check out our landing sites location map
For further information on the network please contact Toby Russell, DAA's Community Helipads Development Officer on 01392 466666/07943 207673 or you can email Toby direct.
With your help we can extend our flying hours into your community
Putting the Air Ambulance at the heart of your community…day and night
Devon Air Ambulance are working with communities to develop a network of pre-surveyed floodlit ‘community landing sites' which enables us to bring a life-saving service into the heart of communities when it is dark.
A community landing site, which is developed and part-funded by the local community, could be located on a green, field, sports pitch or playing field. Key features of a night landing site include:
- it needs to be a flat open area of at least 50m x 50m
- could be on grass, tarmac or concrete
- it needs pedestrian access onto the site and vehicle access close by
- a nearby power source for lighting is useful although not essential
- tall trees or power lines within the site might be a hazard, however if they are on the periphery they may not cause a problem
Floodlighting is an essential component of a community landing site for both safety and practical reasons – it will help illuminate the site during landing and take-off and will help paramedics when loading a patient into the aircraft and during transfer between a land and air ambulance.
A community may be able to adapt existing lighting at a site (e.g. a sports pitch) or utilise existing infrastructure to support new lighting (e.g. the side of a building or pole). Where there are no existing lights or infrastructure at a site DAAT would recommend installing a 10m high column with a set of 2 LED panel lights which can be powered via mains electricity supply or an 'off-grid' solution. An off-grid solution would include a solar/wind powered system to charge a set of batteries which powers the lights. No markings or hard-standing are needed to identify the landing area.
Each lighting system needs to incorporate a GSM remote switching system which is operated using a mobile phone SIM card (with each unit being 'called' to operate). This system enables the lights to be turned on/off remotely by the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) dispatch team, meaning no-one needs to be on-hand when we fly into a community.
Why should my community consider having its own community helipad?
As we all know people don’t simply stop being unwell when it is dark.
Reviews of our summertime extended operational hours (until 9pm) consistently show that we go to over 50 patients who, if their accident or illness had happened during the winter, we would not have been able to get to them. DAAT’s move to extend its hours of operation until midnight every day will therefore make a considerable difference to communities across Devon.
Following a call by Tim Law, President of Bideford Rugby Football Club, DAAT have been working with the club to explore whether their ground could become a suitable helipad for the town. When asked why they wanted to get involved with the initiative Tim said:
"Bideford RFC were really keen to support the Devon Air Ambulance Trust in their efforts to establish a night landing capability in the North Devon area.
From initial site visits with DAAT we understand that the floodlight infrastructure already in place at the Club makes the rugby pitch an excellent location to be developed by installing a remote switching system to enable night landing.
The Club and its Members have recent first-hand experience of the lifesaving service that the aircrew and paramedics provide for the people of Devon. As DAAT officers have explained, once a safe, properly lit helipad is available, the aircrew will be able to respond and take-off to a patient – which will help our community enormously particularly during the during darker winter months.
Being a Community Club we would be delighted to play a small part in providing such a valuable community facility”.
How can my community develop its own night landing helipad?
If you are considering how you might get involved in developing a night landing site for your community then please get in touch with Toby Russell, DAA's Community Helipads Development Officer on 01392 466666/07943 207673 or you can EMAIL TOBY direct.
Communities are encouraged to consider all potential sites in their local area (i.e. not just those we have landed at before in the day) as each site may have different pro’s and con’s for night landing. We will review potential sites and advise communities on lighting requirements, any site improvements (e.g. access) and ongoing management of the helipad.
Each potential landing area will then be formally surveyed by DAAT and this info is used to provide our pilots with up-to-date details of the site and any potential hazards nearby. This will help streamline the process from an emergency call being received and the helicopter being able to take off to a patient.
After that, we are here to help will communities achieve their goal of having their own night landing site. That typically follows a broad process including helping to identify associated with setting up the lighting at a landing site, support with local PR and engaging the wider community through to securing local permissions (with land owners, planning depts etc) and then with liaising with contrctors involved with setting up the lighting or other works.
DAAT is now able to offer grants to communities towards the installation costs of setting up your landing site lighting. These funds, which have been made available to DAAT by the UK Treasury and come from the Libor Bank Fines, are offered to communities as a grant (subject to certain Terms and Conditions) once the lighting costs have been established. These grants will make a huge difference to many communities wishing to establish their own night landing site.
Once the lighting system has been installed, and any other work completed, the landing site will be ‘signed-off’ for use by DAAT and added to our county-wide network of community landing sites.