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RESCUE TRAINING CONDUCTED BY THE OUDTSHOORN WESTERN CAPE TEAM
On 17 of August 2016 rescue training was conducted at the Witfontein Nature Reserve in George along the Garden Route by South African Red Cross Air Mercy Service (AMS). The duration of the training was approximately four hours. Participants in the training included the Metro Eden District Emergency Medical Services, Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) and Forensic Pathology Services. Monthly training with associated rescue organisations (WSAR, Life-Saving South Africa and NSRI) is conducted regularly to ensure that the crew involved with rescues keeps their skills up to date with regards to air crew, rescuers and ground crew involvement in the aero-medical terrestrial rescue scenario. The objective of the training is to show proficiency in the various skills used during the exercise and/or scenarios by participants eg safety, pattering, cable, rope and aircraft management and piloting skills on the aviation side, to patient, victim, scene, team and equipment management and technical rescue skills on the rescue personnel side.
Through these scenarios pros, cons and shortfalls are identified and addressed during the debriefing session at the end of the exercise. The most important information that is taken away or considered is always the safety of the crews and patients involved to be taken into the real world scenario.
Exercises that were completed during the training exercise included: Hoist insertion and extraction of personnel, hoisting a ‘patient’ in and out of a CMC Screamer Suit and CMC Baumann Bag and short haul extraction of personnel with the CMC Baumann Bag. The one constant challenge in these exercises and any real world rescue scenario is the safety of all involved. The professionalism, experience and proficiency of the participants negate the safety challenges that could potentially surface. Challenges include weather, the environment, man-made structures such as powerlines, towers, civilians and animals, especially pets.
The South African Red Cross Air Mercy Service (AMS) in partnership with the Western Cape Department of Health Emergency Medical Services provides an emergency rescue and air ambulance service via its fleet of rotor and fixed wing aircraft to the community of the Western Cape. The AMS has two bases, from which it operates in the Western Cape, one based in Cape Town and one based in Oudtshoorn. The Western Cape Department of Health has a long standing relationship with the AMS to ensure that all citizens have equitable access to specialised care at all levels.
The Cape Town base provides the abovementioned services via an AgustaWestland 119Ke helicopter and a Pilatus PC 12 fixed wing aircraft. In Oudtshoorn the emergency rescue air ambulance service is offered via an AgustaWestland 119Ke helicopter. The aircraft is fully equipped with a dedicated mobile intensive care-type interior, with sling, winch capacity and emergency floatation gear for operations over the sea. The aircraft has the capacity for two pilots, two medical crew members and one stretcher patient. The helicopter has an operating radius of 200 kilometres but can be utilised for further distances. The aircraft is utilised for mountain and surf rescues as well as inter-hospital transfers and primary calls.
The AMS provides mountain and sea rescue services by helicopter with more than 15 years of experience working with the Western Cape Department of Health, Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) and its many affiliates, Surf Life Saving South Africa and the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).
Photo credit: Barry Roeland
Source: Venessa Horn, Public Relations and Fundraising Officer, South African Red Cross Air Mercy Service (AMS)
Agusta Westland 119 Helicopter video
The Agusta A119 respectively AW119 is a light eight-seat single-engine multi-purpose helicopter produced by the Italian manufacturer Agusta (today AgustaWestland).
The AW119 is a single-engine variant of the Agusta A109 / AW109 with skid landing gear instead of the retractable wheel landing gear.
The SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service (AMS) has become a vital conduit for delivery of regular healthcare services to peripheral areas. We work closely with Provincial Departments of Health and health workers in the communities to assess needs and implement appropriate healthcare programmes. The AMS facilitates access to equitable and effective healthcare, contributes to the improvement in the quality of life of all communities and the provision of aero-medical and other associated humanitarian services.
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