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Wiltshire Air Ambulance's airbase wins prestigious award

WILTSHIRE Air Ambulance’s airbase at Semington, near Melksham, has won a prestigious building award.

The state-of-the-art building, at Outmarsh, won the Infrastructure category in the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) 2019 awards in the South West region.

The award recognises excellent achievement in delivering essential facilities or services.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance is a charity providing an essential Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) in Wiltshire and surrounding counties.

Its purpose-built airbase opened in May 2018 and brought together its helicopter, aircrew and charity team to work under one roof and on land the charity owned for the first time.

Previously the helicopter and aircrew were based at Wiltshire Police headquarters in Devizes leasing a hangar, while the charity team were in rented offices in Calne.

The airbase includes a Flight and Operations Centre for the pilots and paramedics, a hangar for the helicopter and medical equipment and offices for the charity team. There is also a training suite comprising an immersive simulation facility for its paramedics and doctors to practice their clinical care skills plus two training rooms which can be hired by businesses.

The airbase was built following a successful capital fundraising appeal and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, patron of Wiltshire Air Ambulance, officially opened it in December 2018.

The airbase project came in under budget and the primary contractors were Rigg Construction (Southern) Limited, based in Melksham, while the architects and project managers were CMS, based in Corsham.

Kevin Reed, head of facilities and security at Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: “We are thrilled that our airbase won the prestigious RICS award. A lot of thought went into the airbase project in terms of finding the most appropriate location to build our new airbase and the design of it. It was designed to provide operational efficiency with modern equipment to enable us to continue saving lives.

“The airbase is ideally located in Wiltshire and our helicopter can reach anywhere in the county in 11 minutes. There is also good access to main arterial routes, including the A350, for when our paramedics use  Rapid Response Vehicles (cars).”

As a regional winner the airbase project will now go on to compete in the national RICS grand final in October 2019.

The RICS Award is the latest honour for the charity’s airbase. Last year it was Highly Commended in the regional Local Authority Building Control Building Excellence Awards while in the national Health Business Awards it was Commended in the Air Ambulance category.

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