Lifesaving hospital helipad celebrates fourth anniversary

More than 400 critically injured people from across the region have benefitted from a Liverpool hospital’s £1 million helipad since it opened four years ago today. 

These patients include 39-year-old Emma Mountford, who was airlifted to Aintree University Hospital in 2017 after sustaining critical injuries following an accident whilst on a picnic in Crewe with her 3-year-old daughter.

Emma, a dental nurse from Stoke-on-Trent, suffered complex injuries to her chest and pelvis when a driver lost control of his car and drove on top of the mum-of-two. Emergency services were called and the decision was made to transfer Emma via North West Air Ambulance helicopter to Aintree, which is home of the Cheshire and Merseyside Major Trauma Centre. Her daughter, Lily, was also struck and airlifted to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

Emma, who was actually the second patient to land at the hospital’s helipad since it opened on 3rd July 2017, said: “There was no time to think; I heard a noise and then all of sudden, a number plate was in my face. I was conscious throughout the incident as thankfully I didn’t sustain a head injury. I could hear Lily crying and that kept me going knowing at least I can hear her.”

Thanks to the helipad, it now only takes a matter of seconds to transfer these seriously ill patients to the Major Trauma Centre. It was funded by the HELP Appeal, which is the only charity in the country that funds NHS hospital helipads.

Previously, patients arriving by air ambulance had to be collected from a nearby playing field before being transported to the hospital by road ambulance, a process which could take up to 30 minutes.

Emma said: “I had suffered a complex fractured pelvis, broken hip, broken ribs, a blood clot on my lung and a haemothorax, where blood collects between the chest wall and lung. Essentially my torso was broken.”

She was taken in for two surgeries, including one which lasted 10 hours, and remained in Aintree’s High Dependency Unit for 10 days before being transferred to Royal Stoke University Hospital – which was closer to the family home. Thankfully Lily, now 7, was able to return home from Alder Hey after one night.

After six months, Emma was discharged. As she suffered a spinal cord injury, she has lasting nerve damage to her left leg – but this hasn’t let that stop her getting back to the things she enjoys doing. After a year Emma returned to her role as a dental nurse, and has since been back to the gym and going out for runs.

Emma said: “The care I received was simply amazing. Everyone who was involved in my journey – I can’t thank them enough. The staff at Aintree’s Major Trauma Centre saved my life. Working in the NHS, you never think it will happen to yourself. I’m forever grateful.”

Steve Warburton, Chief Executive at Liverpool University Hospitals, said: “For seriously injured patients like Emma, every second counts. Having a helipad at Aintree has dramatically improved the speed with which patients are able to access the amazing lifesaving care provided by our major trauma team, giving them the best chance of recovery.”

Robert Bertram, Chief Executive of the HELP Appeal said: “Emma’s story is why we funded the helipad at Aintree Hospital. A helipad is often forgotten about in the chain of emergency care, but without it, Emma wouldn’t have reached the hospital as quickly as she did, which was vital to her survival and recovery.”

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