Critically ill covid-19 patients in Jersey and Guernsey will be flown to UK hospitals in military helicopters operated by a new task force of armed forces personnel and NHS paramedics, it has been agreed.
The measure is part of the UK’s Ministry of Defence’s ‘Covid Support Force', which has seen service personnel and reservists put on standby to support the civilian response to the pandemic.
In total, over 20,000 military personnel are on standby, including 150 military personnel who have been trained to drive oxygen tankers in order to support the NHS if required.
A specific 'COVID Aviation Task Force' has also been formed, with over 300 personnel stationed at air bases across the UK.
The forces includes Royal Air Force Puma and Chinook helicopters, as well as British Army Air Corps Wildcat and Royal Navy Merlin helicopters.
The latter are on standby at RNAS Culdrose - a Royal Navy airbase near Helston on the Lizard Peninsula of Cornwall UK - to support Southern England, the Isles of Scilly, and the Channel Islands.
Pictured: Royal Navy Merlin helicopters are stationed at RNAS Culdrose to support Southern England, the Channel Islands and Isles of Scilly.
The helicopters will be used to airlift patients from remote areas where facilities might be struggling to cope to hospitals that have available beds in intensive care.
They could also be used to fly in medicines and medical equipment to specific areas as well as specialist doctors where they are needed.
Confirmation that the new task force will be supporting covid-19 patients in Jersey and Guernsey comes after a military helicopter was drafted in late at night to fly a Jersey patient in need of emergency care to the UK last week.
In a statement, a Government of Jersey spokesperson said the aircraft - believed to be a Chinook - landed at 23:00 at Jersey Airport.
At 23:00 a military helicopter landed at Jersey Airport to transfer a patient requiring emergency care to the UK. Military assistance was sought for reasons of patient safety and to avoid delay. In order to protect patient confidentiality no further details will be released. pic.twitter.com/UEvDn3N6TN— Government of Jersey (@GovJersey) April 8, 2020
It then took the patient to Southampton General Hospital.
However, officials refused to confirm whether the emergency air transfer was linked with corona virus.
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