The coastguard’s emergency helicopter landed at Clickimin today, but there was no casualty onboard waiting to be taken to hospital. Instead the aircraft was used to help unveil the centre’s new emergency landing pad.
Health officials say the much-vaunted site will help save lives as casualties are flown in to a dedicated area as close as possible to the Gilbert Bain Hospital.
Chairman of Shetland NHS Ian Kinniburgh said a quick journey time was essential to help save lives in emergencies.
“In life-threatening circumstances minutes make a real difference, and to have something as close as this to the hospital is a real boon for us,” he said.
The new site is just yards from where a previous emergency pad was situated.
That was done away with to make the new running track in time for the Island Games in 2005.
Since then the search has been underway for a new location.
Ironically, after several places were considered, the best choice turned out to be just yards from where the old landing site was located.
In the meantime the helicopter has been landing on the Clickimin’s sports pitches in severe emergencies.
At other times it has had to touch down at the Tingwall airstrip, some seven miles away from Lerwick.
Head of the council’s emergency planning John Taylor said a “purpose-built” site was more suitable.
“This is a 13-tonne helicopter and if you start putting that down onto football pitches you start making big divots.
“The other complication is that trolley-cots that the ambulance service use are very difficult to maneaovre over muddy, wet grass. It was ideal to get a purpose-built site.”