Lyneham crew’s pride in premature twins rescue

It looks like I am having a BLog Book blitz this morning and about time. Yet another really good PR article for XXIV is also from the local rag and the date is for this one is Monday 19th January 2009.

XXIV Crew

XXIV Crew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An RAF Lyneham crew told of their pride after being called in to rescue premature twins born on a Scottish island who needed to be rushed to hospital on the mainland.

Air loadmaster Jason Howard, 23, received the call at home in Swindon.

He said: “I was very surprised to get the call. It was my first day back from holiday and I was about to go to bed.

“When we arrived the twins were being stabilised and we waited on the ground for three hours.

“When they were ready we flew them to Glasgow.

“I have never flown with incubators on board before. It was quite a scary experience for me.”

The Hercules was scrambled from Lyneham shortly before 1am, carrying a crew of four, plus two RAF medics.

Sgt Howard said: “This type of call is not what we expect but it is part of the job. It is out of the ordinary but very important to the community.

“It shows the lengths we will go to for the people of the UK.”

Sgt Howard, with flight lieutenant Graham Prager, French Airforce officer Major Olly Luneau, 24 squadron wing commander Andy Bacon, and engineer sergeant Ian Davies landed at Stornoway on Lewis around an hour and a half later.

The plane set off for Glasgow at 5.40am with the twins in incubators, accompanied by medical staff. The flight took around 40 minutes.

Wing commander Andy Bacon said: “Getting to Glasgow was our priority, but smooth flying and landing were key.

“This operation was well coordinated between military and civilian individuals.”

Maj Luneau, a pilot with Armee de l’Air, the French air force, who is serving with the Royal Air Force on an exchange programme, said he had never experienced a mission quite like it.

Maj Luneau and his team flew the brother and sister from the Western Isles on board a Hercules aircraft in an emergency operation in the early hours of the morning after their mother went into labour 12 weeks early.

Severe weather conditions made it too dangerous for an air ambulance to transfer the babies to Glasgow so Maj Luneau and his team were scrambled.

The 35-year-old pilot, who has flown since 1994 and is based with 24 squadron, received the call-out at 11pm yesterday.

“We have never done anything like this before – to fly two babies in their incubator,” he said.

“We were called at 11am last night, but didn’t take off from Lyneham until 1am. All we knew was it involved two babies, but didn’t know the full situation at that stage.

“We flew to Stornaway and waited for the babies to stabilise.”

Maj Luneau, accompanied by co-pilot Graham Prager, air loadmaster Sergeant Jason Howard, and two RAF medics, flew through heavy winds and rain to transport the babies to Glasgow Airport, where they were then taken to the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital.

Learning that the children are said to be in a stable condition with a good prognosis, Maj Luneau said he was proud to have helped them.

“I will be checking their progress,” he said.

“We had never completed a mission like this before, carrying two babies.

We were proud to complete this mission, and I’m very happy to hear they are stable.

“We have a great team, and we work very well together. I’m proud of the team too. There was a lot of pressure, knowing we were transporting two babies who weren’t in a great condition.

“All I was thinking about was getting them back safely and as quickly as I could.”

Maj Luneau, who has served in Afghanistan twice and flies Hercules exclusively, returned at 8am to his base where he had a few hours of sleep.

The pilot will return to the ALA in France in a few months’ time and said he will “miss” serving in Britain.

Dr Lesley Jackson, a neonatal consultant, said this was only the second time in five years that a Hercules had been used to transport ill babies.

The parents are expected to stay in accommodation provided by the hospital in Glasgow until the babies can be discharged.

A spokesman for the Western Isles Health Board said the mother, who had been around 27 weeks pregnant, was in “good health” following a normal delivery.

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