Emergency Helicopter Aims to Get Critically Ill Channel Islanders to UK Hospitals Within An Hour

A new charity is hoping to run an emergency helicopter to get critically ill islanders directly to UK hospitals within an hour.

Air Rescue Channel Islands was set up by Andrew Scott-Miller, a coastguard with extensive experience in the charity sector, and Mark Birrell, a full-time firefighter with previous helicopter winch experience.

Despite both Jersey and Guernsey having fixed wing air ambulance aeroplanes which provide medical transfers, the charity say there has been a huge increase in the use of UK Coastguard helicopters across the islands in the last year, with around 30 being required this year.

The charity also say the average time to deliver a patient into hospital is 4 hours, and they hope a locally-based helicopter on standby 24 hours a day can shorten this.

“Working for Jersey Coastguard for the previous two years has given me an insight into how much the islands rely on the goodwill and availability of UK Coastguard helicopters to assist critically ill islanders, especially overnight and in poor weather.

There are 21 Air Ambulance charities providing cover across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, all funded by the public. I believe, with the support of islanders, we can deliver this life saving service.” said Andrew Scott-Miller

The operator of the helicopter is likely to be one of the two largest providers of air ambulances in the UK, with extensive experience operating at night and in challenging conditions.

Air Rescue hope to have a helicopter based on the islands by the Summer 2019 and are working with health departments in Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney, ready to provide urgent medivacs across the islands and looking to restore the 24/7 medivacs from Alderney to Guernsey, which ceased in 2018

As well as providing medivacs, Air Rescue could carry out multiple roles for a range of Emergency Services, such as repatriating islanders who have had extensive procedures in the UK to remove the difficulty of travelling through airports with oxygen cylinders or limbs in plaster.

Further future roles include search and rescue at sea, assisting Police with missing person searches and the ability to fight furze fires from the air.


As a publicly funded charity, it is essential that we set out to design a service that can assist in as many emergency roles as possible, we have a duty to the public funding this service to give maximum value for their support and we want islands to benefit as much as possible from this service, we envisage over 400 lifeline flights a year” said, Scott-Miller


The charity now needs to raise £1.5 million to get the service in the air, and will also be looking for volunteers to carry out roles such as in-flight medics, off airfield landing safety teams in each island and various operational roles within the running of the charity.

More information can be found here.

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