An air ambulance, with brand new technologies and other advanced features, in a familiar-looking aircraft, was the centre of attraction recently at the Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport in Anguilla.
Known as a Pilatus PC 12 Medical Ambulance, the sleek aircraft is available as a means of rushing Anguillian patients to Guadeloupe, Martinique or elsewhere for advanced emergency treatment.
The air ambulance is part of an arrangement now being discussed among the Government of Anguilla, the Health Authority and officials in the two French territories. Those territories, now working closely with the English-speaking islands, are sharing their medical services with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) of which Anguilla is an Associated Member.
The special features of the air ambulance were explained to Anguilla Government and Health Authority officials by the visiting healthcare providers and technical team. Flying at a speed of 600 kilometers per hour and a height of over 30,000 feet, the aircraft, like a jet, took just over 40 minutes to arrive in Anguilla from Guadeloupe.
“It is an aircraft with new technology but an engine almost 40 years old,” the CEO of the company explained. “There are 56,000 engines like this flying around the world. The fleet has 8 million hours of flight with no engine failures.”
He also spoke about the automatic operations, safety features, carrying capacity and other qualities of the air ambulance.
Among those who inspected the aircraft was Minister of Health and Social Development, Evans McNiel Rogers, who is working feverishly to improve the healthcare services in Anguilla and to partner with regional and global professional providers to accomplish his mission.
“Late last year, the Permanent Secretary, Health, Foster Rogers, and I visited Martinique to attend an OECS Health Meeting and we took the opportunity to visit a number of the health facilities in Martinique and the menu of services being offered,” he stated. “Subsequent to that, I was invited to the opening of the Imaging Centre in Guadeloupe and again took the opportunity to visit the health facilities and the services available there.
“I was very impressed with the level and quality of service offered in these two islands. As a result of those meetings, we were able to invite officials of the University of Guadeloupe Medical Centre to Anguilla to discuss how they can assist us in a more organized fashion. We took note that we already have a number of persons who go to Guadeloupe and Martinique for various services.
“We looked at the insurance coverage here in Anguilla involving the Government, Nagico and the other private insurance companies – and what it would take to utilize the services in those territories. We are so near but still so far apart. During our deliberations, we spoke about the barriers, one of which was the language barrier. They assured me that they are working on that – not only in Anguilla but with the OECS to bridge that gap.
“They are setting up a concierge service, a medical records and customer service – and other arrangements – so that the transition would be easy and patients would feel pretty comfortable knowing that they are able to communicate via translators.”
Minister Rogers continued: “There was a follow-up meeting in Anguilla on July 27, when officials from Guadeloupe, including personnel from insurance companies, social security and the medical community, visited Anguilla. There was also an air ambulance called St. Barths Executive. Its personnel were here to display the equipment and services they can offer whether to Guadeloupe, Martinique or further afield. We realize that, depending on the nature of the illnesses of our patients, Guadeloupe is as good as anywhere else in the region – and it is very close to us.
“As a matter of fact, the air ambulance took just over 40 minutes to touch down in Anguilla. It was a very impressive display of all the new electronic features, and so forth, with respect to the particular aircraft. We were told that it was the latest technology, just a month old. There is a number of other aircraft of the same calibre, name, brand and type, but of an older age. This is the top of the line – with pressurized cabin – able to take the necessary stretchers as well as having the electrical and oxygen capacity not available in some of the regular aircraft.
“We are working to construct an agreement with them whereby we would be able to access the services they have to offer – not only in Anguilla, but the OECS in general.”