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Monday, September 23 2019 @ 02:51 am EDT

Ministry of Health Paying $358,000 For Emergency Medical Evacuation by Air

Healthcare The national government through the Ministry of Health released $358,000 to pay for the "urgent" medical evacuation of patients via air across the country, reported in the first months of 2010. The presidential aircraft, a Legacy 600, was not used in any of these cases, even though it was acquired by the government on the grounds it would be used the "social assistance" and governmental transport. The funds will come from the National Emergency Fund and will be distributed to the four companies who are in the medical evacuation business according to documents posted on the website of PanamaCompra. Benefit - Companies offering this service are: Helicópteros de Veraguas, Medical Life Flight, Love Aviation and Medical Wings Life Team, this last one created in late 2009. All have been direct contracts and have been based on the absence of National Naval Air Service (SENAN) units with the ability to address urgent medical cases in remote areas.

On average, the companies charge $2,800 dollars an hour for the rental of medical helicopters, said Health Minister Franklin Vergara. Patients, mostly from the remote provinces of Darien, Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro, have presented symptoms of acute appendicitis, impending childbirth, dehydration, injuries by knife or fire, among other life threatening conditions. According to the Presidency of the Republic, the Legacy 600 can land at the Tocumen International Airport, the Enrique Malek airport in David, the Alonso Valderrama airport in Chitré, on Isla Colón in Bocas del Toro, in Metetí in the Darién, at Marcos Gelabert, and at Howard.

Defending The Contracts - Vergara Minister said that whenever there is any need in remote areas, President Ricardo Martinelli has provided support with the Legacy 600. This, however, is far from reality because the Ministry of the Presidency has only reported that the Legacy 600 has been used for seven flights - all international. Rentals - In addition to this, the MOH manages the payment of $71,000 paid to other companies for the rental of ground ambulances, which have been contracted to provide logistical support for different events, most recently the International Fair of Azuero. Besides the presidential plane, Vergara said they have been supported by the National Civil Protection System and with "courtesies" - donated use of private aircraft. He argued that with the current crisis of equine encephalitis, the Ministry of Health hired an air ambulance to cover the areas of Metetí and Tortí. For this service, the Government will have to pay $25,000 per week. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: It seems to me the government of Panama should have at least one very capable and robust medical evacuation helicopter on call 24/7. In case of extremes or national emergencies they could then outsource and let contracts to pick up what they can't handle internally.

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Ministry of Health Paying $358,000 For Emergency Medical Evacuation by Air | 3 comments | Create New Account
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Ministry of Health Paying $358,000 For Emergency Medical Evacuation by Air
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 22 2010 @ 06:33 pm EDT

These flights are basically for Panamanians who are without much of anything. Seguro Social patients at the lowest income scale. Lots of Kuna and Embera tribe kids are brought to Hospital Del Nino for trauma care and operations.

The only helicopter service with a dedicated medical aircraft was/is Angel Wings Life Team. I do not believe they have their commercial certificate yet. As I understand it, there are some questions about their service being able to start due to the helicopter being recalled to Texas.

Ministry of Health Paying $358,000 For Emergency Medical Evacuation by Air
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 24 2010 @ 11:13 pm EDT

This is a day late and a dollar short in my honest opinion. I may be somewhat biased but in 2008 when LifeFlight Panama was opened and ready for operations with a completly outfitted aircraft and crew nobody was there with money to help. Then again there was a different adiminstation in charge of the country. There is still a great need in Panama for a helicopter air ambulance service. The country could really benefit from a professional outfit down there to set up and run this program. The original business model of LifeFlight Panama is still a very viable option. Those who may be thinking of getting into the helicopter air ambulance business should know one very important fact; this is an expensive business and it does not happen over night. Even if you can get something started there are several infrastucture items pertaining to the airports and aviation area in general that would need serious attention to get an operation in place and ready to operate 24/7, 365 in a safe and secure manner. Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) operations are very different and unique and should not be taken lightly as they are very dangerous and deadly as proven by the number of accidents and fatalities around the world. But alas this is one mans opinion and you know what they say "Opinions are like assholes everybody has one" On a personal note if and when someone with the money and the time to make HEMS operations in Panama a reality, I would be more than happy to move back down there again and fly whatever helicopter you may want to put me in and bring with me my eight years of civilian HEMS experience and twelve years of U.S. military helicopter experience.

Joe Rios
Former Pilot
LifeFlight Panama

Ministry of Health Paying $358,000 For Emergency Medical Evacuation by Air
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 25 2010 @ 05:31 am EDT

If they had only had the foresight in 2008 when LifeFlight Panama was in country with an aircraft and crew ready and willing to go to work. They could be two years ahead of where they are now. The infrastructure is not ready for a 24/7, 365 operation to be accomplished in a safe and secure manner. But hey that is just my opinion.