Hospital helipad in Cambridge destroyed by US military aircraft on training exercise

Connor Parker
·3 min read

Watch: Air ambulances unable to land at Addenbrooke's Hospital after helipad destroyed

A US military helicopter has destroyed an air ambulance landing pad at a Cambridge hospital, forcing emergency services to land at a nearby airport.

It means critically ill patients will have to be taken to Cambridge City Airport before being transferred to an ambulance and taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital, which is the specialist trauma centre for all of the East of England.

The helipad was destroyed by a US Air Force (USAF) helicopter as it took off, with the power of the double propellers blowing the landing pad apart.

(YouTube/Trailspotter)
The second the helicopter took off the helipad was almost instantly destroyed. (YouTube/Trailspotter)

Major Keavy Rake, from the USAF 48th Fighter Wing told ITV News: “The area was surveyed according to our policies and procedures and some damage did occur.

"We are taking steps to rectify as soon as possible.

"Our units are continuously coordinating with our local partners to improve operations. We are greatly appreciative of the relationship and coordination we have with the UK."

(YouTube/Trailspotter)
The helicopter started tearing up the landing pad as soon as it began taking off. (YouTube/Trailspotter)

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The footage of the incident was captured and published by the Trailspotter YouTube account.

During the clip, the USAF helicopter can be seen making a successful landing on the helipad without causing much damage.

But once the helicopter takes off again, the power of its propellers blows the helipad apart.

Before it even takes off, parts of the helipad start getting torn up and when the helicopter begins hovering the whole area is ripped up.

Elliot Langran, who witnessed the event, told ITV News: "It all unfolded in front of me. I saw debris flying up in the air, my biggest fear was the helicopter. 

"The worry was if the debris went above the roter it could have damaged the aircraft or, even worse, the people. 

"I’ve been all over the place across the world, but I’ve never seen anything like this."

(YouTube/Trailspotter)
The helicopter was able to take off without sustaining any damage. (YouTube/Trailspotter)

A spokesperson on behalf of East Anglian Air Ambulance, Magpas Air Ambulance and Essex and Herts Air Ambulance, the three air ambulances serving the region, said: “Due to an incident at the Cambridge University Hospitals' helipad involving a military aircraft on Wednesday 21 April, the helipad is temporarily unavailable to air ambulances. 

"The next closest helipad is at Cambridge City Airport, where one of the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) teams is based.

"It will be possible for the EAAA helipad to be used as an alternative landing site during this time and have patients transferred to Addenbrooke’s from there by land ambulance, with critical care staff onboard."

They added: "The situation has been handled incredibly well by all parties involved and we are optimistic that the site will be back in use soon.”

A spokesperson for Cambridge University Hospitals said: "While our normal helipad is being repaired air ambulances will temporarily land at nearby Cambridge City Airport and patients are then transferred to the hospital in road ambulances with critical care staff on board, meaning we can continue to see and treat them as normal."

The US 48th Fighter Wing is based at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, about 25 miles northeast of Cambridge and housing 4,500 active members of the military.

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