It was the crack of dawn on day 2 of the Air Medical Transport Conference in Virginia Beach, VA. A group of movers and shakers in the helicopter EMS industry gathered for a breakfast seminar introducing Haiti Air Ambulance, a new air medical service for the nation of Haiti.
Attendees viewed a brief video on Haiti’s dire emergency medical needs and how HAA will meet them. Executive Director Ralph McDaniel followed with a presentation on the project’s status and next steps. HAA Board Member Reginald Auguste -- a Haitian businessman and aviation activist -- delivered some powerful remarks about the program’s importance to the people of Haiti.
HAA is a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to launching Haiti’s first permanent helicopter EMS program. In conjunction with the University of Miami’s Project Medishare, Hospital Bernard Mevs, and a network of other local hospitals, it will provide life-saving emergency services to all Haitians -- regardless of income.
Work has begun on HAA’s first base in Port-au-Prince. In the very near future, HAA expects to sign a contract with a leading air medical aviation service provider to furnish aviation equipment, oversight, personnel and management resources to the program. Initial transports are expected to commence in early 2014.
“This is an exciting time for all of us at HAA,” said HAA co-founder Pat Dolan. “Soon we’ll be flying fully equipped Bell 407’s on life-saving missions throughout the country. I’m grateful to our phenomenal staff and Board of Directors. And a special thanks to everyone who has shown their interest and support.”
“Our team first met last year to discuss the possibility of this dream becoming a reality. After many months of boots on the ground in Haiti working on the feasibility and integration plans we are happy to announce our program,” said Jordan Owen, Operations Manager and Chief Flight Paramedic.
Haiti has ten million people, yet there is only one hospital in the country that offers advance trauma and critical care. Many patients with survivable injuries such as broken bones bleed out and die before they can reach help, said Dr. Vincent DeGennaro, Director of Internal Medicine for Project Medishare and an HAA board member. “Whether, they’re near Port-au-Prince and they can’t get in cause of the poor roads or they’re far away in the northern part of the country where there aren’t trauma hospitals, then they would all benefit from having a helicopter be able to fly them into Port-au-Prince where there is proper care.“
HAA will operate two HEMS configured and equipped Bell 407 helicopters at a base located near the Port-au-Prince International Airport. A National Call Center for aeromedical utilization will be established to manage incoming emergency transport requests and coordinate patient movements with a dozen hospitals throughout the country. Staffing will consist of a mix of full and part time professionals and volunteers. HAA operations will be conducted in compliance with U.S. FAA part 135 standards and CAMTS guidelines as well as identified aviation and HEMS industry best practices from around the globe.
"The introduction of the HEMS program is a game changer for Haiti," said Mr. Auguste. "In today's environment, non-life threatening injuries often times result in death. Once this program is introduced, those lives will not be lost and the lives of countless Haitians will now be improved."