New Wales Air Ambulance quicker with high-speed internet
Wales' most critically ill will be helped by a new quicker helicopter to ensure patients are transferred to hospital within the "golden hour".
The Wales Air Ambulance (WAA) has launched its new H145 aircraft, which can fly in the night as the "charity moves closer" to 24-hour service.
It is the first of three new custom-built helicopters to be introduced by the air ambulance service in 2017.
The helicopter, based in Llanelli, will provide cover for south Wales.
"With continued fundraising, this new aircraft will support our aim to progress to a 24-hour operation, so we can help anyone in their most difficult hour - whether that's day or night, " said WAA chief executive Angela Hughes.
Operations manager Mark Winter added: "The cockpit is set up for night vision technology. We have a weather radar, additional lights underneath and a 'tracker light' on the front, which is like a giant torch and incredibly powerful. These new features will make a difference to the work we can do after dark."
Wales Air Ambulance key points:
- 25,000 missions since its March 2001 launch
- Each mission costs about £1500
- Three airbases in Llanelli, Caernarfon and Welshpool
- A helicopter can be anywhere in Wales within 20 minutes
- The charity raises £6.5m a year to keep the helicopters flying
The new aircraft, which replaces the old eight-year-old EC135 model, can fly up to 150mph (241km/h), has extra room for treatments and can fly longer without refuelling.
It has a high-speed internet connection to "enable crews to communicate vital information to hospitals directly from our medical equipment while en route".
"The H145 is a significantly more advanced machine, meaning we can do so much more for the people we help," added Mr Winter.
"We fly to missions where time really matters, so a more powerful aircraft helps to keep us within the golden hour."