Ambulance Service unveils new LifeFlight choppers

February 18, 2014 - 6:18:28 am

The Minister of Public Health H E Abdulla bin Khalid Al Qahtani, (centre) with Hanan Al Kuwari, Managing Director, HMC (left) and Major General Ghanim bin Shaheen Al Ghanim, Chief of Staff – Army Headquarters at the launch yesterday.

DOHA: Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) Ambulance Service yesterday launched three new Agusta Westland AW139 LifeFlight helicopters to increase access to safe and effective emergency healthcare. 

The state-of-the-art choppers replace the smaller ones launched seven years ago. 

“These are bigger than the previous helicopters. They have equipment that can be found in intensive care units, so we can do pretty much anything we do in the first two hours of the injury in these aircraft,” Dr Robert Owen, CEO for HMC Ambulance Service, told the media after the launch at Aspire Park.

The helicopters are fitted with latest medical equipment, such as the LUCAS II chest compression device to enable chest compressions to continue for a patient while they are in transit. They can also carry up to two patients at once if necessary. 

Dr Owen said the new helicopters are very powerful and extremely fast and provides comfort to patients as they create minimal vibration. “I can say this is the most advanced air ambulance you can find anywhere in the world,” he added. 

Two of the three new helicopters will be operational 24 hours and ensure air ambulance coverage even in the most remote areas of the country.

He said the choppers will be used to provide emergency services in rural areas such as Al Khor and Mesaieed and transfer patients from neighbouring countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 

A Critical Care Flight Paramedic and Flight Ambulance Paramedic are on board the helicopters at all times to administer emergency care at the scene of the incident and in flight to hospital. The pilots of the helicopters are from Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF).

“We have partnership with Qatar Emiri Air Force. The pilots are from QEAF, which maintains them and provides us operational support,” he said, adding there are plans to increase the number of helicopters as demand increases.

The helicopters complement a diverse fleet planned and put together with Qatar’s needs in mind. Other vehicles include the fully-equipped Mercedes Benz Sprinter Ambulances, with a streamlined shape to cut through the Qatar traffic, and the Toyota Landcruiser GX’s that enable paramedics to access patients in the desert. 

Dr Ibrahim M Fawzy Hassan, Deputy Medical Director for the Ambulance Service, said: “We are always looking for ways to provide the best clinical care for patients as quickly as possible. 

“This is how we can improve mortality rates and provide the people of Qatar with a top quality service. 

“The launch of these helicopters marks a very important addition to the service and one that will greatly benefit our patients.”

HMC Ambulance Service, Dr Owen said, received more than 130,000 emergency calls in 2013, a 23 percent increase from the previous year. 

HMC also has 71 ambulances and 22 rapid response vehicles.

The launch was attended by the Minister of Health H E Abdulla bin Khalid Al Qahtani, Major General Ghanim bin Shaheen Al Ghanim, Chief of Staff – Army Headquarters, Hanan Al Kuwari, Managing Director, HMC, and senior representatives from Qatari Emiri Air Force and Army, the Supreme Council of Health, Police, Security Forces and HMC. 

The Peninsula

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