Civilian helicopters for emergency work
Updated: 2012-04-23 12:38
By Yang Yijun in Shanghai (China Daily)
Civilian helicopters are expected to join the medical emergency service in Shanghai, a senior executive of a general aviation company told the 2012 Civil Aviation and Media Forum over the weekend.
Beijing Capital Helicopter Co Ltd, which was established by HNA Group, signed an agreement with Shanghai Gaodong Airport, a helicopter airport in the Pudong area, to use the company's base for emergency responses.
The first two helicopters will arrive at the base in May at the soonest, Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post reported on Sunday.
A drill the company conducted in January proved that the system is workable, said He Chi, vice-president of the company, at the forum.
In the drill, the helicopter took only 41 minutes to carry an injured boy from Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, to Beijing. It would take about three hours by car.
In 2011, Shanghai started using police helicopters for medical rescues to improve the speed in providing first aid.
"The helicopter will help to gain more time to save people because the ambulances can often get stuck in traffic jams because so many cars are on the roads every day," Zhao Huaqiang, director of the Shanghai Medical Emergency Center, told China Daily in an earlier interview.
Currently four hospitals in the city - Huashan, Ruijin, Changhai and Changzheng - have helipads and fast channels between the helipad and the operating room.
However, Beijing Capital Helicopter's He said that a financial support system is needed to popularize the service.
"The challenge for air rescues is 'Who pays the bill?' I think the best solution is through insurance. If one tenth of the 20 million people in Beijing could buy 100 yuan ($15.86) of insurance, the problem would be solved," he said.
In the Zhangjiakou case, the total transportation and medical fee was around 100,000 yuan. The expense for using the helicopter was 30,000 yuan an hour.
On March 29, Guangdong General Hospital transferred a female infant who suffered from congenital heart disease from the province's Shantou city to the provincial capital Guangzhou for treatment. It cost nearly 20,000 yuan for the one hour and 48 minute trip.
The rescue led to suspicions among the public that the infant was from a rich and powerful family, although the hospital denied this and said staff had assessed the necessity for an air rescue before sanctioning it.
Liao Xinbo, deputy director of the Department of Health in Guangdong province, told Guangzhou-based Southern Weekly that air rescue should be resorted to in disasters such as fire and flooding. He added the country isn't economically capable of using air rescue for ordinary diseases at the moment.
"Currently, it's not possible to provide all the advanced technologies and high-end services to all the people fairly. After all, many people don't have access to basic medical treatment yet," he said.
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