Netcare 911 staff and paramedics at the launch of the Angel of Mercy.
Netcare Umhlanga Hospital officially launched its helicopter air ambulance in Umhlanga, last Friday.
Doctors, nurses matrons and other guests gathered for the prestigious event. Craig Grindell, CEO of Netcare 911, welcomed guests before conducting formalities.
Guests were then treated to a light finger lunch before witnessing the helicopter air ambulance landing.
The Angel of Mercy, also known as the helicopter air ambulance, is permanently configured with a mobile intensive care unit.
This event represented a significant step forward for helicopter emergency medical services in South Africa.
“The main reason we brought it to KZN was that there is a dire need to increase response time in rural areas and areas that have limited resources to transport sick or injured patients. There are challenges in getting to certain far out rural area that have sand roads. We are trying to eliminate that by bringing helicopter,” Shawn Herbst, media liaison for NetCare 911 said.
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The aircraft can travel a range of 550km from its operating base at Virginia Airport on the KZN North Coast.
The cruising speed of Angel Mercy is a speed of 130 knots. It also has the latest equipment in diagnostic, ventilation and monitoring.
“We have fitted this helicopter with long range fuel tanks, instead of bringing in the retractable landing gear we have put fixed kits. This will allow us to increase the range of the helicopter. The helicopter will be 24 hours operational, so it will be available at night time when needed,” Herbst said.
The helicopter will be manned by a dedicated team of experienced pilots and emergency care practitioners.
“We have got Advanced Life Support qualified paramedics working on the helicopter. The helicopter can carry a pilot two advanced Life Support paramedics, the patient and it also has a third seat which we have opened up for doctors or specialists. The third seat can be case dependent as well, like when a person is trapped underneath a car and paramedics need someone of a higher qualification for an amputation. The paramedics can then be left on the scene to fetch a general doctor or any other specialist from the hospital, work on the scene and bring back the paramedics with the patient,” he said.
Netcare 911 pledges to rapidly deliver the highest level of emergency care to patients at the scene of an emergency. The helicopter will also used for intensive care transfers between hospitals throughout KwaZulu-Natal.
The helicopter officially started flying out to emergencies from 12pm on Friday afternoon.