Air ambulance based at Cheltenham Festival to aid injured jockeys

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  • An air ambulance will be based at Cheltenham racecourse for all four days of the festival next week.

    This is the first time an air ambulance has been based at the racecourse during the Cheltenham Festival (13 to 16 March).

    The Midlands Air Ambulance Charity’s H135 helicopter will be on hand to provide prompt support for emergencies.

    Jason Levy, fundraising and marketing director for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, said the Jockey Club and Cheltenham racecourse have been “terrific supporters” for many years.

    “As an emergency pre-hospital service, we take the welfare of jockeys and horse riders very seriously, and on average airlift a horse rider every four days,” said Mr Levy.

    “The fact we will be operational from the Cheltenham Festival this year is testament to this relationship, and represents an excellent opportunity to showcase what we do to festival goers.”

    A team from the charity will also be based at the north entrance, where there will be a helicopter simulator pod as well as information on the work it does.

    The Midlands Air Ambulance Charity has three air ambulance helicopters, each of which carry two flight paramedics or a flight paramedic and a doctor, plus a pilot.

    The service attends an average of six call outs a day and covers six counties: Shropshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands.

    Simon Claisse, of the Jockey Club, said he is delighted they are able to work with the charity during this year’s festival.

    “The service they provide both to us and the wider equestrian community is second to none,” he added.

    “To have a dedicated helicopter position on site over the four days ensures, when necessary, that a patient can be transferred to a trauma hospital without delay.”

    The charity recently took delivery of a new upgraded air ambulance helicopter.

    The £7 million H145 Airbus helicopter joined the fleet on 26 February and is housed at charity’s RAF Cosford airbase in Shropshire.

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    It was unveiled by the charity’s chairman Brendan Connor with the help of ambassadors multiple Paralympic medallist Sir Lee Pearson, Only Fools and Horses star John Challis and former England rugby captain Neil Back.

    It can travel greater distances than the other two helicopters without needing to stop and refuel and the larger interior means more medics and supplies can be carried on board.

    “Excellent pre-hospital patient care is at the heart of everything we do,” said Mr Connor.

    “To support our mission, build resilience, and strengthen the long-term sustainability of the charity, we made the strategic decision to invest a proportion of donations into a larger, upgraded H145 model.

    “The new airframe will enable us to reduce our operating costs and complements our plans to further improve pre-hospital care in the region.”

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