9th Dec, 2016

Air Ambulance issue drone safety warning amid national issue around airports

Shaun Reynolds 27th Aug, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

WARWICKSHIRE and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance have issued a list of safety tips amid multiple incidents involving drones and helicopters.

BBC One drama Casualty is also chipping in to raise awareness of the danger of drones by marking its 30th anniversary with a feature length episode based on the dangers of flying drones close to airports.

In the programme, a drone strikes the tail rotor of the helicopter which then crashes at the hospital.

Since introduced on a commercial basis, Drones have always been a danger to aircraft and the Air Ambulance charity have said drones were a potential issue for all aircraft if people ignored the rules.

Despite multiple incidents on a national scale, the Warwickshire Air Ambulance has yet to experience an incident involving a drone – though they’re still warning residents about the dangers.

Drone users have been advised to not use their equipment near scenes of emergencies or landing facilities and to not exceed 400ft altitude.

Air Ambulance head of operations Phil Bridle said a common issue surrounding safety related to laser pens being shone at aircraft at night.

He added: “If these are aimed at the air ambulances or any other aircraft it can temporarily blind the pilot and could have terrible consequences.

“One of the biggest dangers can be the public themselves.

“For example, people on the ground have been known to approach the helicopter when its rotor blades are still running.”

The Air Ambulance have issued the following safety tips to ensure the pilot of an air ambulance can land safely:

* Clear the area so the helicopter has a clear space to land

* Keep as far back as possible and stand still until the helicopter engines have completely stopped.

* Keep hold of all children and protect their eyes. Grit and other debris can get blown about and can get in the eyes.

* Make sure your dog is on a lead.

* Please respect the pilot’s wishes. You may be able to talk to the pilot if he has time while the medical crew is away from the aircraft.