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Air ambulances return to Addenbrooke’s Hospital following damage to helipad from RAF Mildenhall based US Air Force aircraft



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Air ambulances are once again able to land beside Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge following the damage caused to its helipad by a US Air Force plane on Wednesday.

A USAF Boeing/Bell CV-22B Osprey 10-0053 taking part in a medical transfer training operation on Wednesday (April 21) at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus site had caused damage during take-off.

The force of the rotor wash ripped apart the helipad matting, as this incredible footage posted on Youtube by Trailspotter shows.

It meant the East Anglian Air Ambulance, Magpas air ambulance and Herts and Essex Air Ambulance were advised that they had to use the helipad at Cambridge City Airport until it was fixed.

The Cambridge University Hospitals helipad is blown apart by the USAF Boeing/Bell CV-22B Osprey on April 21, 2021. Screen grab from Trailspotter video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObfdLy-QlsU
The Cambridge University Hospitals helipad is blown apart by the USAF Boeing/Bell CV-22B Osprey on April 21, 2021. Screen grab from Trailspotter video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObfdLy-QlsU

This meant any patients would then have needed transfer by land ambulance from the airport, leading to delays in admission.

Today, Cambridge University Hospitals confirmed that air ambulances could once again land on site, although at a grass landing site nearby, as the damaged helipad still need to be repaired.

“Air ambulances are now able to land again at Addenbrooke's Hospital, close to the usual helipad site,” said a spokesperson.

Details of the cost of the damage have yet to be revealed but the US Air Force said it was helping with the repair.

The Cambridge University Hospitals helipad is blown apart by the USAF Boeing/Bell CV-22B Osprey on April 21, 2021. Screen grab from Trailspotter video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObfdLy-QlsU
The Cambridge University Hospitals helipad is blown apart by the USAF Boeing/Bell CV-22B Osprey on April 21, 2021. Screen grab from Trailspotter video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObfdLy-QlsU

Major Keavy Rake, from public affairs, in the Host Nation Coordination Cell at Mildenhall, said: “The area was surveyed according to our policies and procedures and some damage did occur.

“We are taking steps to rectify as soon as possible. Our units are continuously co-ordinating with our local partners to improve operations. We are greatly appreciative of the relationship and coordination we have with the UK.”

And in statement on Friday afternoon, Maj Rake added: “The 352d Special Operations Wing, located at RAF Mildenhall, recently conducted a simulated medical evacuation training scenario at Addenbrooke’s Hospital to assist in providing local forces with a casualty evacuation capability. This was the first time we have conducted operations on the Addenbrooke’s Helicopter landing zone.

“Planners for the exercise assessed the area of execution prior to the exercise and coordinated with both, the manufacturer of the landing pad, hospital staff and the Addenbrooke’s East Anglian Air Ambulance units.

The Cambridge University Hospitals helipad is blown apart by the USAF Boeing/Bell CV-22B Osprey on April 21, 2021. Screen grab from Trailspotter video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObfdLy-QlsU
The Cambridge University Hospitals helipad is blown apart by the USAF Boeing/Bell CV-22B Osprey on April 21, 2021. Screen grab from Trailspotter video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObfdLy-QlsU

“Unfortunately, the training caused damage to the helipad, however, no one was injured and there was no damage to any aircraft. The U.S. forces and U.K. MoD are coordinating to rectify the situation as quickly as possible, and will continue to work with local partners to return the area to its original state.

“The Addenbrooke’s helipad is currently open for emergency day-use, as all debris in the area was cleared by the USAF and MoD teams within 24 hours and the intention is for the pad to be replaced.

“We regret any disruption caused to the hospital and the associated emergency services, and truly appreciate their understanding and the long-standing relationship and partnership between the US and UK.”

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