City tests first privately owned emergency helicopter

2013-05-16 00:00

EMERGENCY rescue response in Pietermaritzburg is set to attain new heights.

ER24 has teamed up with Halo Aviation and SA CAN community action network to get the first privately owned emergency service helicopter in KwaZulu-Natal.

Tuesday was the first day of a six-month feasibility trial period for the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) project.

The helicopter had completed two successful missions by yesterday. It picked up a cyclist from the Ixopo area who suffered a neck injury and flew the patient to St Augustine’s hospital in Durban. Another patient was picked up from Highflats and flown to Mediclinic.

The helicopter was brought from Johannesburg and modified to become an emergency service vehicle.

Paul Knoeson, the ER24 operational manager for the KZN interior, is excited about the HEMS project.

“We chose PMB to be our base as it is central to the whole of KZN. We can respond more quickly to the four corners of KZN from here.

“The helicopter is like a mobile ICU unit. All the equipment you would find in an ICU room is found inside the helicopter.”

The helicopter will be used for critical emergencies that an ambulance cannot get to, or for emergencies that occur far from hospitals, where patients need urgent hospital treatment.

Knoeson said: “The helicopter staff will consist of highly trained paramedics, doctors and nurses who can provide the best treatment to patients. This is especially important for when we go to the rural areas of KZN where there are no hospitals close by.”

Jack Haskins jnr, the flight co-ordinator of the HEMS project, said: “The helicopter can carry one patient, two specialists and the pilot.

“The bed in the helicopter can be adjusted, so patients with less serious injuries can sit up and have a more comfortable ride.”

The helicopter will operate within daylight hours only. It is not an all-weather aircraft.

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