The Isle of Wight Council’s emergency management team (EMT) have been working with the Mobile Air Operations Team from the Joint Helicopter Support Squadron based at RAF Odiham in Hampshire.
An inspection of current and potential sites the RAF could use to safely bring in people, specialist vehicles and equipment during major incidents recently took place.
The EMT has been carrying out the visits to ensure that should there be a major incident that requires additional support, necessary arrangements are in place. The EMT works alongisde partners incuding the emergency services and the voluntary sector.
Numerous sites were identified and validated by the RAF team, including Seaclose, West Wight Sports Centre and St Helens. To identify a potential site, consideration is given to the type of surface a helicopter would land on, obstructions such as trees or power lines, proximity to residential areas, land ownership and the nearby road network. Not all sites identified are made public for safety reasons.
This information will be held by the Island Resilience Forum and the RAF to enable a quicker and more effective response to a major incident.
Councillor Phil Jordan, Isle of Wight Council Executive member for public protection, said: “This is an important project that will enhance protocols that are already in place should a major incident occur.
“It also complements work being undertaken by town and parish councils in the development of their own community resilience plans, part of which may require arrangements for the establishment of helicopter landing sites, involving both multi-agency staff and voluntary sector groups with a role in emergency response.
“It was a very successful visit and although we would never want to see a major incident take place here, residents can be assured resilience plans are in place should they ever be needed.”
Flight Lieutenant Darrell Griffiths from RAF Odiham added ‘The value of such a visit should not be underestimated. As well as forging strong links between RAF Odiham and the Isle of Wight Council’s emergency management team, the work carried out will complement existing contingency plans and allow for a swift and effective response from the Royal Air Force and other agencies, should a major incident occur.’
If you would like to find out more about the Island Resilience Forum and community resilience visit www.iwight.com.