FROM yesterday patients requiring air transport from Orange will no longer be forced to wait out in the open for their plane to arrive.
Saturday’s official opening of the Max Hazelton Aero Centre (MHAC) at Orange Airport will make a world of difference to patients requiring transport by air ambulance.
Last year 370 patients flew out of Orange via fixed-wing air ambulance, and until now they had no undercover or indoor place to wait for their flight.
Ambulance Service of New South Wales air ambulance chief superintendent Graeme Field said paramedic crews and patients were forced to wait outside for the plane.
“You were there in the early morning, in the dark, in the wet, the cold,” he said.
“Sometimes we could get held up here and the patient has to wait.”
Superintendent Field said the MHAC will make a huge difference to patients, paramedics and pilots at the airport.
“It’s just fantastic and having a bathroom is fantastic, a lot of places don’t have one,” he said.
Patients can now be transferred under shelter from the road ambulance into the centre’s medical interchange while they wait for their flight.
Once inside, paramedic crews and patients have access to a kitchen and toilets and can wait in comfort for the plane to arrive.
More than 10 years in the planning, Orange Aero Club and countless volunteers have helped to make the $350,000 centre a reality.
Club organising committee chair Bob Nash said Saturday’s official opening was “surreal”.
“We put so much effort and time in, to now finally result in this is just amazing,” he said.
The purpose built centre not only features the medical interchange, but it also has a training room, commercial kitchen and can act as a function centre.
“There’s nothing else like this in any other regional centre,” Mr Nash said.
Mr Nash said from mid September the centre will also act as Orange Airport’s terminal while the old 1960s terminal building is renovated over an 18- month period.
The centre was named after Max Hazelton, now retired, who founded Hazelton Airlines which became Regional Express airlines (Rex) around 10 years ago.
Mr Hazelton was present for the opening and said he was a little nervous at all the attention but humbled by the honour.