The clocks go back on 30th October and this means it’s time for the aircrew to dust off the night vision googles. The Cornwall Air Ambulance is about to commence a third winter of flying in the hours of darkness, after nightfall in the evenings using NVIS, (night vision imaging systems).
This means that as winter sets in, the air ambulance remains online and able to respond to emergencies, even when it has gone dark. In the depths of winter the extra availability is between 16.30 hours and 1900 hours, just the time when everyone is making their way home from work and school.
Whether or not the air ambulance can attend an incident is still subject to the same types of limitations and conditions that apply in the daytime, for example weather visibility, but these restrictions apply to all air ambulances, and are there to keep everyone safe. In Cornwall, later into the night, or in poor weather conditions, helicopter emergency services are provided by Bristow Coastguard, who have become great friends and working colleagues on the other side of the runway at Cornwall Airport Newquay.
In 2014, Victoria Milligan presented the charity with over £250,000 raised in memory of her late husband Nicko, and daughter Emily, who lost their lives in a tragic accident in Padstow. This made the addition of NVIS technology possible, and each winter means the Cornwall Air Ambulance can fly extra life saving missions.
Victoria recently came to Cornwall to take part in the county’s first TED event, TEDx Truro, and her talk “Time is Precious” can be found here. In it Victoria speaks very frankly and bravely about what happened on the day of the accident, and how we all need to think about making the most of our time together.