More than a dozen helicopters used to evacuate wounded troops in wartime are on standby to assist patients of the NHS medics airlift coronavirus in the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands.
the COVID According to the Ministry of Defense (MoD), the Aviation Task Force can be used to transport emergency equipment and personnel anywhere in the country.
It includes aircraft from the Royal Air Force, the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy and the Army Air Corps.
A crew of three helicopters spent time Thursday with doctors from an air ambulance detachment at a Hampshire airfield, learning how each other works and how to protect themselves on the coronavirus First line.
Commander Chris Knowles is the commander of 820 Naval Air Squadron, the helicopter squadron of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
He has experience with medical evacuation flights during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The commander said his squadron may need to use his Merlin helicopters differently when he was flying NHS doctors in support of very sick coronavirus patients.
He said: “If we have a patient with respiratory distress, we will obviously be notified by the medical team.
“But for example, we can’t go up in altitude to make sure that the oxygen levels remain stable for the patient.
“We will seek advice from the medical team on the speed at which they wish to arrive at the next facility and whether the regularity of the flight is a high priority based on the amount of care they provide to the patient at that time. “
It is also a learning curve for doctors on the Hampshire and Isle of Wight air ambulance team.
Flying in a military helicopter like a Chinook or RAF Puma or Merlin, there is vibration, it is noisy and the lighting “can be difficult,” said Dr. Simon Hughes, senior air ambulance doctor, who previously served in the RAF.
“But they have the advantage of speed and range,” he said.
While still testing the concept of what Task Force Aeronautical COVID, a military helicopter was put into service earlier this week for an airlift with doctors from Hampshire, taking a patient to Southampton Hospital.
The person is not believed to have been suffering from COVID-19 – the disease caused by the coronavirus – but doctors treat each call as “COVID possible” and take all necessary precautions in terms of wearing protective equipment.
They should also keep as far away from their military crew as possible to limit the risk of infection.
Military helicopters will be responsible for flying to more difficult-to-reach locations, such as Guernsey and Jersey or the Shetland Islands, and for taking patients to better equipped hospitals.
They have the ability to reach individual homes and also to fly patients between hospitals.
The task force includes more than a dozen helicopters located outside military bases across the country, on notice to respond to the support of any NHS crew when called.
Lessons learned by both parties during the practice session will be shared with other colleagues.