|HAL's Vahu Vahan (an improvised Chetak) was launched with great fan-fare couple of years ago and not sure what is the status of this air ambulance now.|
| By Anantha Krishnan M. | AVIATION WEEK |
Bangalore | India | September 29, 2010 |
Despite a lot of campaigning by various helicopter firms, India has yet to catch up with the rest of the world in using helicopters for medical evacuations in the civil sector, apart from some five-star hospitals that are offering the service to affluent patients.
Bangalore hosted a one-day national meeting on Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) on Sept. 28. Participants from hospitals, industry and government stressed the need to use helicopters during emergencies.
Sitaram Yechury of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture says that a detailed study is underway for the use of helicopters for medevac, and should be ready for the House during the Winter Session.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which needs to clear helicopters for the air ambulance role, now says it will take into account recommendations from industry.
However, helicopter experts point a finger at DGCA for not spreading awareness of helos for medevacs. “First we need to educate the masses [on] the importance of saving lives,” a helicopter pilot tells AVIATION WEEK. “Hospitals, NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and corporations must come forward. The administration must set up more helipads [and] set up emergency toll-free phone lines for people to reach these centers. Operators should not see it as a way of making profits, but a social obligation to save lives. Finally, DGCA should act fast and make separate guidelines and encourage choppers to get into medevac.”
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