ER24 Global Assist makes history in St Helena

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ER24’s aeromedical service, ER24 Global Assist, is proud to be part of a team from St Helena Government that made history on Saturday 4 June 2016. ER24 Global Assist was the first medical evacuation company and only the fourth fixed wing aircraft to have landed at the airport since September 2015. On Friday 3 June ER24 Global Assist was activated from Johannesburg, South Africa to assist with the evacuation of a critically ill baby. The child was scheduled to be picked up via ambulance from the Jamestown Hospital and airlifted to a Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. The aeromedical team, which included three pilots, a flight engineer, a medical doctor and advanced life support paramedic, had their work cut out for them. They knew that the airport had unpredictable wind-shears. In an article posted by British Conservative Peer, Lord Ashton on the 2nd of June 2016, he wrote that his visit to the airport has now been postponed indefinitely, amidst serious concerns that the airport is too dangerous to use because of vigorous and unpredictable winds. “The official opening of the new airport on the island has also now been put on hold indefinitely,” he wrote. A day later ER24 Global Assist’s Dassault Falcon 20, operated by Guardian Air, landed safely at the airport. On Friday 13 May 2016 the St Helena Government held an Open Day with all St Helena residents invited. “Residents could experience first-hand of what to expect when the airport is fully operational and handling commercial flights,” said Gwyneth Howell – Head of Operations at St Helena Airport. The airport is fully certified. However, the official opening of the St Helena Airport has been postponed due to wind shear problems. Recently the first test flight with a Boeing 737 by British Airways in South Africa was undertaken to the St Helena International Airport. A video published on the internet shows how it had to abort its first landing attempt due to severe winds. ER24 Global Assist’s aeromedical team departed Lanseria International Airport on Friday 3 June at 09:21 SAST for Walvisbay, Namibia. A technical stop in Walvisbay at 11:45 SAST gave the aeromedical team time to evaluate the weather in St Helena further. Information obtained in Walvisbay was the deciding factor to proceed to St Helena International Airport. The aeromedical team decided to continue to St Helena International Airport and expected to touch down at 15:30 SAST. The St Helena Government would have made use of a ship that could have taken more than five days to reach Cape Town, South Africa if an aircraft was not available or able to land. ER24 Global Assist’s Dassault Falcon 20 is fully equipped with two state-of-the-art intensive care beds. Each bed has the capability to accommodate a critically ill patient with several ICU attachments, including non-invasive and invasive monitors and ventilators. A carefully laid out seating plan ensure paramedics and doctors have constant access to patients. Enough room is left over for immediate family to escort a patient to the receiving facility. In this particular case, the baby’s mother travelled with the aeromedical crew to Cape Town, South Africa. Local blogging enthusiasts, Darrin and Sharon Henry from What The Saints Did Next (WTSDN), captured the historical moment when ER24 Global Assist’s Dassault Falcon 20 touched down on Runway 2 at St Helena International Airport. Despite all the challenges and wind shear, the aircraft had a successful landing on the first attempt. “They (ER24 Global Assist) landed successfully on Runway 2 without even making a missed approach,” Howell told WTSDN. The ER24 Global Assist aeromedical crew were met by Jamestown Ambulance personnel and transported to Jamestown Hospital where they assessed the critically ill baby. ER24 Global Assist brought their specialised medical equipment along to leave the hospital’s equipment behind. Due to safety precautions, the ER24 Global Assist aeromedical crew stayed over for the night and commenced the journey to Cape Town, South Africa early on Saturday 4 June. They safely touched down at Cape Town International airport at 13:40 SAST. “It was a long trip, but the baby is doing well. The baby and mom were safely handed over to the receiving doctor at the Hospital,” said Ilze Milbert, ER24’s Global Assist Fixed Wing Coordinator. “The residents of St Helena will tell you that their main reason for wanting an airport is to have faster medical evacuations. The RMS St Helena ship is scheduled to be back on the island on 28 June. This medical evacuation flight landing is a defining moment in St Helena’s history,” Sharon Henry wrote on her blog. Howell told WTSDN that she was very proud of the team and the smooth operation. “We have an excellent aeromedical team, and we are proud that we were able, not only to assist a critically ill baby but support the St Helena Government and be part of their history. We continuously monitored our flight and team from our ER24 Emergency Contact Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa and knew that they were in safe hands. We look forward to being a part of future medical evacuations and support to the St Helena Government and community,” said Dr. Robyn Holgate, ER24’s Chief Medical Officer. Janet Lawrence, Airport Project Director at St Helena Government said ER24 Global Assist’s approach to the situation was professional and supportive, and this is highly appreciated. “Thank you for your patience and support in answering all of our queries and for the level of sensitivity that you showed in allaying the concerns of the family involved.” [su_carousel source=”media: 28317,28316,28315,28314,28313,28312,28311″ link=”lightbox” height=”200″ items=”4″]

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