Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) Ambulance Service today held an event to announce the successful implementation of three new Agusta Westland AW139 LifeFlight helicopters to increase access to safe and effective emergency healthcare. The event was attended by HE Abdulla Khalid Al Qahtani, Minister for Health, Major General Ghanim bin Shaheen Al Ghanim, Chief of Staff – Army Head Quarters, Hanan Al Kuwari, PhD, Managing Director of HMC, along with senior representatives from the Qatari Emiri Air Force and Army, the Supreme Council of Health, Police and Security Forces, and HMC.
Two of the new helicopters are in operation 24 hours a day and their addition to the fleet ensures air ambulance coverage even in the most remote areas of the country. A Critical Care Flight Paramedic and Flight Ambulance Paramedic are on board the helicopters at all times to administer emergency medical care both at the scene of the incident and in flight to hospital. The pilots of the helicopters are from the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) and the launch of these air ambulances signifies a new working relationship between HMC and the QEAF.
The new helicopters are primarily used to transport appropriate injured persons as quickly as possible from the scene of an emergency to hospital. The helicopters are fitted with the most up to date 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.
The helicopters complement a diverse fleet that has been planned and put together with Qatar’s specific needs in mind. Other vehicles include the fully equipped Mercedes Benz Sprinter Ambulances, with a streamlined shape designed to cut through the Qatar traffic, and the Toyota Landcruiser GX’s, that enable paramedics to access patients in the desert.
Dr. Robert Owen, Chief Executive Officer for the HMC Ambulance Service said, “Our fleet is purpose built for the unique needs of the State of Qatar. We are delighted to be working with the highly skilled and professional QEAF to provide the LifeFlight air ambulance service. These helicopters are an essential element of the fleet and they are most appropriate in cases where speed is of the essence. Of course this isn’t always the case, and the helicopter is not always the most appropriate transport to the hospital, but they are extremely necessary to the overall fleet and play an integral part in the HMC Ambulance Service providing access to the safest and most effective care for the people of Qatar.”
Dr. Ibrahim M Fawzy Hassan, Deputy Medical Director for the Ambulance Service, also pointed out that the helicopters could get emergency medical teams to the scene of a serious incident quickly. “At the Ambulance Service we are always looking for ways to get the best clinical care to 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 LifeFlight helicopters marks a very important addition to the Service and one that will greatly benefit our patients.”
The HMC Ambulance Service received more than 130,000 emergency calls in 2013 and responded with a large and diverse fleet. The peak deployment operational vehicles available, at peak deployment, to provide emergency medical care to the people of Qatar include 71 ambulances, 22 rapid response vehicles and, as a result of the new additions, two LifeFlight helicopters.
The Ambulance Service is currently running a campaign to ask the public to ‘Help us Help You’ in which they recognize the support of the public and the will that exists to help save lives. They ask the public to remember five key messages that will help them to save lives:
1. Dial 999 immediately in a medical emergency.
2. Know your location, so the ambulance can find you easily.
3. Answer all questions on the call so the ambulance knows what support you need.
4. Follow all instructions given by the emergency call handler, it may help save a life.
5. Give way to ambulances on the road.