Home » Health Services » CIMAS Unveils Emergency Air Ambulance

Cimas Medical Aid Society has introduced a critical care emergency air ambulance to airlift patients locally and regionally to an appropriate medical facility. Cimas Emergency Air Rescue Service utilises a dedicated twin engine Beechcraft King Air 200 aircraft, which has been configured with state-of-the-art intensive care facilities, including the most modern defibrillator in the country.

The aircraft is the only dedicated air ambulance in Zimbabwe or anywhere else between the Limpopo River and Kenya. It will be available to airlift critically ill patients from anywhere in southern, central or east Africa.

The minimal crew on board all medical evacuation missions is two pilots with considerable flying experience, a doctor and a nurse, who also have aviation medicine experience and are up to date in aanced cardiovascular life support and basic life support practices.

Altogether Cimas Emergency Air Rescue Service, which is a 24 hours-a-day service, will have, when fully fledged, six doctors and eight nurses, although only one doctor and a maximum of two nurses will travel with the patient or patients in the air ambulance.

They have all attended an Aviation Health Care Provider’s course.

The air ambulance is pressurised, which is an important factor when evacuating critically ill patients, especially those with head, chest or traumatic injuries. It can travel at an altitude of up to 29 000 feet above sea level, allowing it to fly above the weather. It is fuel efficient. It can fly at up to 480 kilometres per hour.

The Beechcraft King Air 200 is the aircraft of choice in Africa and for air ambulance services worldwide.

It can land on short airstrips of between 800 metres and one kilometre, whether the airstrip is grass, gravel or tarmac, making it ideal for landing in, for instance, game parks for emergency medical evacuations.

It can fly for up to six hours without refuelling, which means it will be able to reach virtually anywhere in southern, central and east Africa without needing to stop to refuel.

The intensive care unit equipment on board the air ambulance is portable, with a long battery life. Most of the equipment can continue working for up to six hours without needing the battery to be recharged, allowing the medical crew ample time to monitor the patient on the ground before take-off and en route to hospital at patient’s destination.

There are battery charging facilities on the aircraft. The installed life port includes piping for oxygen and the suction system.

The air ambulance service is available for anyone who needs medical evacuation in an emergency.

Non-members of Cimas have to pay in aance for the service, while the service is provided as a benefit for Cimas members on the private hospital and medexec packages. Cimas envisages the air ambulance service being used for medical evacuations not only in Zimbabwe but throughout southern, central and east Africa.

Cimas Emergency Air Rescue Service operations manager Shingisayi Chibvongodze stressed the importance of having a dedicated air ambulance, which will be used for nothing else other than patient evacuation. “International medical insurance companies require emergency medical evacuations to be carried out only by dedicated air ambulances.

Other air ambulance services in Zimbabwe charter aircraft that may be used for other purposes apart from medical evacuations.

“The Cimas air ambulance will only be used for medical evacuations. It will go through a disinfection process after every flight. Linen will be changed. It will be an intensive care unit on the wing,” he said.

Cimas Chief Medical Officer Douglas Gwatidzo said Zimbabwe was well placed geographically for the provision of air ambulance services to other countries in the region.

“The aircraft is ideal for emergency medical evacuations. It is able to land on short airstrips of any sort, making it possible to land at tourist resorts such as Fothergill Island or Chewore Game Park in the Zambezi Valley without any difficulty.

“Each flight will have a doctor and an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse with training in cardio-vascular life support to ensure that patients are well taken care of. The ambulance is virtually an intensive care unit in the air.

“Patients will be flown to the nearest appropriate hospital. In most cases patients from other countries and often even from Zimbabwe are transported to South African hospitals.

The medical crew will accompany the patient all the way to the hospital,” he said.

“The King Air 200 is recognised worldwide as the best aircraft for transporting patients. It can accommodate two stretchers, although normally it will only be fitted with one,” he said.

Source : The Herald