Wiltshire Air Ambulance reveals preferred site for new base
WILTSHIRE’S Air Ambulance may have found a new base in the county after a year-long search.
The lease on its hangar and offices at Wiltshire Police Headquarters in Devizes runs out at the end of 2017 and by then the charity hopes to be at a new site near Semington.
The search for a suitable site has identified land at Outmarsh Farm, Semington, south of Hampton Park West Industrial Estate.
Bosses at the charity needed to find a site that would allow helicopter crews to maintain their target of reaching anywhere in the county in 11 minutes. It is also away from major housing development and has good road links.
An air ambulance spokesman said: “Currently our helicopter and crew are based at Wiltshire Police Headquarters in Devizes while our charity team is based at offices that we rent at Porte Marsh Industrial Estate, Calne. The lease on the hangar runs out on December 31, 2017, and the lease on the offices runs out at the end of January 2018.
“The advantage of having the crew and charity team under one roof means we will be working more efficiently. The benefit of owning our own land would mean we have full control of our future and not subject to renting with the uncertainty that can bring.”
It is holding a public consultation next Wednesday, August 12, at Trowbridge Rugby Club from 3 to 8pm.
The spokesman said: “It is of the utmost importance to us that we explain our plans to people living and working near our proposed site and to hear their views.
“Charity staff and crew hand delivered letters of invitation to almost 700 properties in Semington and Berryfield.
“We also sent letters to more than 60 stakeholders, including businesses who are adjacent to the proposed site and community representatives in Melksham.”
The charity believes the move could have a beneficial spin-off for the area. The spokesman said: “Melksham does not have an ambulance station and we believe WAA would provide enhanced medical cover.
“Our critical care paramedics have advanced medical skills and as well as responding in the helicopter, they use a rapid response vehicle to attend medical emergencies including road traffic collisions, heart attacks and strokes.”
The air ambulance became a lone organisation this January after more than 20 years in partnership with Wiltshire Police and the NHS. As part of its partnership it used the hangar at headquarters but under the terms of the new agreement the lease was extended to next year.
To keep the air ambulance flying costs £2.5 million a year – £6,850 per day – which comes entirely from public donations.
With thanks to www.helihub.com and www.gazetteandherald.co.uk