Saturday, November 03, 2007

No takers for air ambulance in the City

No takers for air ambulance in the City
C S Hemanth


Narrow roads, aggravating bumper to bumper traffic, endless traffic signals and to top it all an accident death rate which is the highest in the country.

These are not too pleasing facts about your city, but they provide an ideal platform for the air ambulance service to take wings and come in aid of those requiring treatment during the ‘Golden Hour.’

However, that’s not the case with the air ambulance service providers in the city as there are not many takers for the quick and effective trauma care ambulance.

Aviation major, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) which launched ‘Vayu Vahan’ last year has not been able make too much of a headway through its air ambulance service.

The specially designed Chetak helicopter for emergency medical evacuation and air charter services can be hired at Rs 25,000 per hour for all planned and medical evacuations.

It has so far undertaken only one eviction since its inception in October 2006 when a Japanese tourist was airlifted after she suffered spinal injuries while travelling in a bus from Goa to Hubli.

“ The response for the air ambulance service has so far been sporadic, sometimes there are a whole lot of inquiries while at other time there are none. One reason for the Vayu Vahan not taking off as expected could be due to non-participation from the health insurance companies. If they come forward and tie-up with hospitals then more people would opt for this quick medical evacuation service, ” Wg Cmdr (Retd) Unni Pillai of the Rotary Wing, HAL told Deccan Herald.

Apollo Hospitals and Deccan Aviation which came together to start the heli-ambulance service too are of the same opinion that if medical insurance companies came forward more people would seek the air ambulance services.

For every medical evacuation Apollo Hospitals and Deccan Aviation charge Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh depending on the distance to the hospital or around Rs 75,000 per hour.

Dr N K Venkataramana, founder of city based Comprehensive Trauma Consortium (CTC) Sajveevini which has undertaken close to 45,000 emergency rescues in and around the city feels that air evacuations can save many lives in a city like Bangalore where the accident death rate is the highest in the country with around 1000 deaths every year.

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