Bristol Royal Infirmary’s helipad, which opened in 2014, has seen 450 landings by six air ambulance providers, over the past four years.
The rooftop helipad at Bristol Royal Infirmary, which became operational in May 2014, had building costs of £3million. The HELP Appeal – the only charity in the country dedicated to funding hospital helipads and relies entirely on public donations – contributed a total of £500,000. The helipad currently enables patients across the South West with critical illnesses or injuries to be flown directly to the hospital or the Bristol Heart Institute, which will receive patients transferred by helicopter for cardiac treatment.
One patient was Bill Creamer, who tells his story: “It was just going to be a normal day like any other; I never thought it would end up so differently. I’d started the day’s work in my shop at the golf club and the last thing I remember is my colleague leaving to teach a lesson. I was told later that he had returned and found me on the floor, after suffering a heart attack.
“Some golf club staff members gave me CPR and used the club’s defibrillator. They got my heart beating but I was still unconscious. The land ambulance crew arrived and my heart stopped again when they moved me. They sorted that out and made the decision to call the Great Western Air Ambulance. After 15 minutes, they arrived and I was flown to the Bristol Royal Infirmary where the Heart Institute is based. As there is a helipad on the roof of the institute, the hospital staff were able to start treating me almost immediately upon landing. My consultant said this speed was absolutely vital in my survival and recovery.
“I remained in an induced coma and in intensive care for four days. When they finally brought me round, I didn’t know where I was or what had happened to me. I was still very sedated and spent a further few days on the high dependency ward.
“I am sure that the outcome would have been very different had I not got the care I needed, as fast as I did. It was the skills of the staff and the helipad being so close to the Heart Institute that kept me alive. My stars were definitely aligned that day!
“I’ve now fully recovered and life is great. It’s a bit of a bonus really as I certainly view life from a different angle now and it would be fair to say that my priorities have changed significantly. The golf club staff, the land paramedics, the air ambulance crew and the HELP Appeal gave me another chance at life.”
Robert Bertram, Chief Executive of the HELP Appeal adds: “It’s great to see how the helipad has made such a difference to a significant number of critically ill patients who were rescued from across the region.
“As their injuries and illnesses were so severe, every second counted in getting them to the expert care they urgently needed. We are so proud that the HELP Appeal, through the its donation, has helped the hospital achieve this for all of the patients affected over the past four years.”