Council Deny Allegations About Opening Airport In Medical Emergency

St Mary's Airport

Allegations that air traffic controllers couldn’t be contacted to light the airfield for a medical evacuation in thick fog don’t give the correct story, according to a Council spokeswoman.

An islander, connected to the emergency services, told Radio Scilly News that the landing lights weren’t turned on when the RNAS Culdrose chopper had to land to pick up a heart attack victim in the small hours of Saturday 1st October.

The worker claims the mobile phone number given for the on-call air traffic controller was unobtainable and the staff rota and alternative numbers were not passed on.

But the Council say the numbers were correct and there are clear procedures which the air traffic control staff adhere to, following a landing request.

Royal Navy spokesman Ian Mackay at RNAS Culdrose says the procedure is for staff at Kinloss to call through to have the St Mary’s airfield opened. Ian isn’t aware of procedural problems but said, “It is desirable to have airfield lighting available during bad weather.”

He adds, in this rescue, the crew had to carry out a low-level radar approach because of the weather.

The South West Ambulance Service Trust declined to comment, as we wouldn’t name the person who contacted us.

We asked the Council why the lights were not on and whether it is normal for them to be turned on in a late night rescue. We also asked if they wanted to say anything to reassure the locals who had called us.

The Council Officer didn’t want to make further comment but told us “the Military provide an excellent service to these Islands that is second to none.”

The Culdrose spokesman told Radio Scilly News that the technology allows the aircraft to reach the islands in virtually any weather.

Nevertheless it is always wise to have airfield lighting available.