A new Lear 45 air ambulance aircraft is now part of the DRF Luftrettung fleet. The new jet took off last week on its first mission, right in time for the holiday season. A patient had to be repatriated from Portugal to a German hospital for surgery due to a medical emergency.
After the DRF Luftrettung dispatcher had clarified the medical facts, the crew set off for Faro at 12:45 pm. On arrival, they took charge of the patient and transported her to Munich that night while giving her intensive care on board the Learjet 45. Anyone on holiday or travelling on business abroad can have a sudden accident or fall seriously ill, so that further clinical care in the home country is required. Employees working for their companies abroad are flown back to their home countries for further medical treatment on behalf of insurance companies and assistance services, for example.
In addition, DRF Luftrettung repatriates its sponsoring members, who became sick or had an accident, to German hospitals, if this is medically indicated and ordered by a doctor. To coordinate these global operations, the DRF Luftrettung Alert Center at the airport of Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden is staffed with experienced dispatchers around the clock, 365 days a year. An incoming emergency call sets off extensive medical and flight-operational preparations: the dispatch coordinators in the Alert Center organize the entire transport of the patient, from hospital bed to hospital bed.
While one of them, for example, obtains the necessary visas and landing permits, another informs the physician on duty, who will discuss medical details with the treating clinicians in a doctor-to-doctor call. After careful planning of the flight path, the crew is alerted and informed in detail about the deployment. Within two hours of being alerted, the crew, consisting of captain, co-pilot, emergency physician and paramedic, is ready for takeoff.
"Our Learjet 45 will most often take off on its missions in a double stretcher configuration, so that we can always transport two patients at the same time. This allows us to combine patient transports despite tight deadlines, for example if a patient in Tenerife and another in Gran Canaria must be picked up and flown to the same country”, project manager Herbert Kauth explains.
Another advantage of the aircraft, which was purchased in South Africa, is the ease of refueling: the so-called single point refueling – which uses a single nozzle for refueling, to which all tanks are connected - saves time, which ultimately benefits the patient. In addition, the Learjet 45 has a modern glass cockpit with four screens that replace conventional instruments like the altimeter.
During the summer months, patients and crew further benefit from a special feature of the jet: the so-called auxiliary power unit, a mini engine that can also be operated on the ground and allows the cabin to be permanently air-conditioned during waiting times. To be able to transport patients aboard the Learjet 45, it was converted in recent months for its use as an air ambulance. To this end, new medical equipment was designed and installed on board. The DRF Luftrettung flight crew also had to prepare for the new jet.
The captains and co-pilots have been trained and licensed for the new aircraft type in a three-month training course since the beginning of this year. Finally, the jet was certified by the Federal Aviation Authority and registered in the list of air carriers who have been issued an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC). In a last step, the European Aviation Safety Agency, EASA, issued a so-called Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for medical equipment. With this, the Learjet 45 was ready to take off on its first mission.
Last year, 839 patients were brought home from abroad with DRF Luftrettung air ambulances and those of the LAA (Luxembourg Air Ambulance) under the name of EAA (European Air Ambulance). The flights went to 103 countries. The DRF Luftrettung air ambulances are stationed at the airport of Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden and start from there on their worldwide missions.
About DRF Luftrettung
Besides repatriations with ambulance aircrafts, DRF Luftrettung operates 31 HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) bases in Germany, Austria and Denmark with over 50 helicopters for emergency rescue and intensive care transport between hospitals, at eight bases even around the clock. About 700 emergency physicians, 300 paramedics, 160 pilots as well as 80 technicians are deployed with the DRF Luftrettung. In 2012, they flew a total of 38,748 missions. For further information, go to: www.drf-luftrettung.de.