In India, 1 person dies on our road every 3 minutes. We have one of the worst road traffic-related death figures in the world. This is not because our hospitals or our doctors are inferior. It is because the Trauma centres and tertiary care hospitals are concentrated in cities. People suffering from non-traumatic medical emergencies also face the same problem. Majority of the population of India live in rural and semi-urban areas not having direct or immediate access to tertiary centres.
During a life-threatening medical emergency, whether brought about by Road accident or a sudden deterioration of a medical condition, the victim is taken to the nearest hospital first. Upon realizing that the condition is beyond the capability of this hospital, the victim is subjected to another journey to the appropriate tertiary centre. Most of the deaths happen in either of these 2 journeys or in the first receiving hospital.
HEMS cuts through this practice in a big way. By transporting skilled Intensive care/Emergency doctors by helicopter, not only provides immediate access to advanced ICU (within the helicopter) but also rapid access to the most appropriate tertiary care hospitals. This has a proven benefit in saving lives of people dying of preventable deaths.
During major disasters like train accidents and natural disasters, where access by road of the state’s health machinery would be impossible, HEMS plays the most crucial role in setting up triage and temporary treatment centres and transporting multiple personnel and equipment in an effective and time critical manner.
The cost of such a service for the entire state to run non-stop for 4 years would be less than the government expenditure in establishing one district general hospital. This initiative is guaranteed to reduce the preventable death-rate by more than 30% if implemented to its optimal capacity.
ICATT is a highly specialized Air Ambulance service founded by Dr Shalini Nalwad and Dr Rahul. Both these doctors are UK trained Intensive care consultants, who have super specialized in Aeromedical services with substantial experience in this field in the UK. They have relocated back to India with the sole purpose of establishing the HEMS – Helicopter Emergency Medical Service. This service does not exist in India, as of now, but has a proven benefit in saving lives in the countries where it is operational. HEMS basically means, transporting a highly trained Doctor and paramedic in a helicopter to a place in the vicinity of a critically unwell patient who needs advanced ICU care immediately. Without this intervention, this patient would not survive for more than an hour nor would he survive the journey to the appropriate medical centre. ICATT proved this concept during the recent floods in Kerala where they positioned their helicopter along with medical teams in the most severely affected part of Kerala and saved multiple lives by airlifting critical patients from relief camps.