The current TV series on our air sea rescue services is attracting a huge amount of interest. The dramatic film footages of rescues appeals to the public and some of the rescues are very hazardous. In the past month, the rescue services have saved two lives in Tramore and, without such a rapid response, the victims could have died of exposure or hypothermia.
Last Sunday, the helicopter taking the swimmer, who had been rescued at Tramore, could not land at Waterford Regional Hospital because of the lack of a landing pad. Smaller helicopters we understand can land there but not the larger Sikorsky.
As a result, the helicopter had to land at Waterpark’s Rugby Club ground in Ballinakill and then transfer the rescued man by ambulance to the hospital. In that case, the man, who was in fairly good shape, did not suffer but, if it happened to someone else in a weaker condition, the extra minutes could contribute to a different and unhappy outcome. When there are rugby games being played at the grounds the helicopter cannot land and another spot is required.
Given the vast amounts of money that the HSE spends, the provision of a suitable area in the hospital grounds should be set aside for landing. There has been much building on the hospital grounds and further planned. We welcome the opening of a new stroke unit as a positive development last week where local patients really benefit.
But the provision of a landing pad for the Sikorsky helicopter Coastguard Rescue Service is essential and needs to be raised in the list of priorities. We have a very good coastguard and sea rescue service plus cliff and mountain rescue. They do great work often on a voluntary basis and it is frustrating for them to see the helicopter advantage be lost by not landing in the hospital grounds. If it was in America they would probably land on the roof and much detail would go into this option. Maybe there is some best practice from other countries to be investigated. And we do not need to spend thousands of euro on consultants to find out the answer, a few phone calls and web searches could reveal very much.
Many Waterford people working overseas read the Munster Express and maybe they might be able to provide some quick and inexpensive answers to the problem. A vacant spacious area should be enough to do the job with some tarmac and road access. But maybe that is too simplistic and there are other problems.