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Air medical evacuation that every second counts

  • Release Date:2015-06-05
  • Source:NASC

Released on: Jun 5 2015  |  source: National Airborne Service Corps, Ministry of the Interior
We do not have the liberty to choose. When a call comes in, it does not matter the mission is search and rescue at sea or in the mountains, medical evacuation or firefighting in forests. We will do our best to get the job done as long as we are needed.
May 22 2015, a tourist went for Ludao Island for a visit. An accident occurred to him and he suffered a head trauma. He was bleeding at the back of the head and had a sign of concussion. Late at night that day around 21:40, the Corps received as call from Ministry of Health and Welfare requesting a helicopter for medical evacuation, and scrambled a UH-1H Huey, numbered NA-512 and its mission crew of Squadron 3, 3rd Wing (stationed at Fenghian Airport, Taitung) for the mission. The crew followed the standard operation procedure and was briefed for the weather and target area before takeoff. They landed at Ludao Airport on 22:27 to pick up the patient and returned to Fengnien Airport at 22:53 where the patient was transferred to the waiting medical crew. Instructor Liu, Ching-Cheng who was one of the crew for this mission said that Ludao is only 22kn away from Taitung. It takes roughly an hour to perform a medical evacuation with helicopter. Despite the short period of time, the crew still follows the standard operation procedure every time a medical evacuation mission like this comes up.
Instructor Liu has been working for the Corps for more than 10 years and has 30 years of experience in the air. He said he remembered the rescue mission on Apr 4 this year to help a group of student hikers in the Dalili Mountains of Taitung at the altitude of 6,000 feet. As the helicopter arrived at the target area, the cloud cover was hanging low in the mountains and the turbulences were strong, but that did not stop the crew from doing their job. The pilot and copilot tried their best to keep the helicopter steady, watch the changes on the dashboard and maintain communications with ground crew, while the crew chief helped by observing the flight path in the cabin and guiding the pilots away from TPC’s power towers and cable cars. As they found the hikers, the trees prevented the helicopter from landing and the crew managed to hoist the hikers after several runs. Each and every step of the hoisting requires the teamwork of the crew. Thoughtfully, Mr. Liu remembered the devastation of Alishan during the Aug 8 typhoon in 2009. He was on duty as a call came in requesting medical evacuation of patients and local residents. When he arrived at the target area looking down, all he could see was disastrous and the once beautiful mountain views gone. Landslides blocked the roads and the countryside was devastated. It was like Mother Nature made a warning not to underestimate her awesome power. “We landed at a makeshift landing pad to pick up those who were in need of medical assistance,” remembered Liu, “the crew didn’t talk to the passengers. But a single nod and a look in the eyes told us that they were grateful that we were there.”
Liu said humbly that he always appreciates the opportunity to fly and rescue people, and think about how to improve flight skills and rescue capability. Particularly, those who fly rescue missions have to make a flight and rescue plan as detailed as possible, so that the safety of crew and those to be rescued and successful performance of missions once a mission request is received.