Shortage of air ambulances amid COVID-19 surge, relatives of patients cope up with challenges

By ANI | Published: April 26, 2021 09:05 PM2021-04-26T21:05:59+5:302021-04-26T21:15:02+5:30

Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, the demand for air ambulances has increased by three to four times compared to the previous wave and people are finding it difficult to arrange emergency evacuation of their patients due to "shortage of isolation pods" and other logistical issues.

Shortage of air ambulances amid COVID-19 surge, relatives of patients cope up with challenges | Shortage of air ambulances amid COVID-19 surge, relatives of patients cope up with challenges

Shortage of air ambulances amid COVID-19 surge, relatives of patients cope up with challenges

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Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, the demand for air ambulances has increased by three to four times compared to the previous wave and people are finding it difficult to arrange emergency evacuation of their patients due to "shortage of isolation pods" and other logistical issues.

Delhi-based Sarthi Airways, which operates pan-India air ambulances, expressed a sense of disappointment over not being able to meet increasing demands for evacuation of COVID patients in the second wave of the pandemic.

""The demand for air ambulance has gone up since last month. We normally receive three to four calls in a day for evacuation foe normal patients but now we are receiving 25-30 request in a day for COVID patients. Unfortunately, the air ambulance industry is not able to fulfill the demand. We have received many distress calls and sometimes we feel very sorry," Shilpa Raj, General Manager of Sarthi Airways told .

She said air ambulance compes in India are not being able to fulfill demand for evacuation of COVID-19 patients "due to an acute shortage of isolation pods".

The air ambulance operators need to follow standard SOPs for evacuation of COVID-19 patients. The norms require that COVID-19 patient has to be evacuated in isolation pod and use of masks and other precautions is not adequate.

Industry sources said many operators do not have isolation pods as they are very expensive.

"There is a huge shortage of isolation pods in India. If an aircraft doing back-to-back operations, it has to fumigate according to the rules. They can only do two operations in a day due to non-availability of isolation pods," Shilpa Raj told .

India has around 15 registered air ambulances for medical evacuation.

According to another private air ambulance company, shortage of trained staff is another difficulty being faced by the operators.

"There is waiting period of three to four days for evacuation of COVID patients. After an evacuation, we have to put out staff in isolation and monitor their health. Air ambulance compes have one or two pilots on an air ambulance," an official of the company told .

Company officials said that demand for air ambulance in the country also rose as hospitals in big cities like Delhi and Mumbai reported a shortage of oxygen and non-availability of ICU beds.

They said medical emergency evacuation, including for COVID-19 patients, requires a lot of paper work and permissions.

Rakesh Chauhan, who is in the air ambulance business for many years, said they start the process of evacuation after getting approval from the district magistrate (DM) and acceptance of the concerned hospital.

"It requires No Objection Certificate (NOC) from both sides," he said.

Referring to cost, Shilpa Raj said that if a person hires air ambulance from Delhi to Jaipur for a normal patient it will cost around Rs 3 lakh.

"If it is hired for a COVID patient, then the cost around Rs 5 lakh or more due to isolation pod," she said.

( With inputs from ANI )

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor

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