Air ambulance  service for  Bulawayo Part of the HAC Medical ambulance fleet (Pictures by Leigh Anne Williams Life thru a lens)

Peter Matika, [email protected] 

HALSTED’S Aviation Corporation, (HAC), one of the largest private charter operators in Zimbabwe, has launched air ambulance services in Bulawayo, which include intensive care unit (ICU) transfers internationally and the service is the first of its kind in the city. 

The medical insurance facility, HAC Medical, is aimed at mitigating casualty statistics of road traffic accidents.

Prior to its launch in Bulawayo on Thursday last week, HAC Medical, which was incorporated in 2014, only serviced Harare and surrounding areas.

HAC Medical boasts six medical rescue aero crafts and is set to provide a number of services that include medical rescue, aeromedical, intensive care unit ground ambulance and advanced critical care.

HAC Medical is a subsidiary of HAC and offers emergency medical rescue (EMR), a subscription-based service that is available to everyone through the recently released HAC Medical mobile application.

HAC Medical is accredited by the European Aero-Medical Institute (EURAMI.) Founded in 1992 by the leading aeromedical providers in the world, EURAMI is a globally recognised institution with more than 50 accredited providers worldwide and its base is in Cologne, Germany. 

EURAMI has established itself as an indicator of excellence, quality, and safety in Aero-Medical Transportation. It strives to increase and promote the best patient care by creating and publishing standards in the field of Fixed Wing Air Ambulance, Rotary Wing Air Ambulance as well as Commercial Airline Medical Escort.

Speaking at the official launch of the service in Bulawayo, HAC Medical managing director Mr Herbert Fate said many lives have been lost on the roads due to inaccessibility of road networks due to poor state of some roads.

“We strive to save lives when it matters most which is better known as the golden hour. Our aim is to respond to patient’s emergency and needs in a short period of time so that we save lives, ” he said.

Mr Fate said HAC began operations in 2007 and so far it has 13 aircraft that are fully functional. He said the company seeks to offer its wide range of medical aid facilities at a low cost.

“We launched our ambulance services in 2008. We are a Zimbabwean company and operate in the country and the region,” he said.

HAC also offers road ambulance services. 

“HAC has entered the EMS industry and provides first-world services, which are accessible to everyone at affordable rates,” said Mr Fate.

Speaking during the same event, HAC chief executive officer Mr James Halsted said they strive to be a reliable ambulance service, providing professional emergency medical care in the critical time window when a patient needs it most.

He said HAC Medical services include providing advanced medi-clinics for dangerous sports and social events as well as emergency medical training and a range of first aid courses tailor-made to suit every business or social environment.

“Our ground ambulances adhere to the most stringent internationally regulated standards including fully configured intensive care unit ambulances with advanced life support capability (ALS). We have three Beechcraft King Air Aircraft at our disposal that are suited to land at airstrips where most other jets cannot land,” said Mr Halsted.

“The aircraft is fully equipped and permanently configured as an ICU Air Ambulance.”

Mr Halsted said their staff is registered with the Health Professionals Authority of Zimbabwe as well as the Allied Health Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe.

“We employ experienced staff including ICU nurses, paediatric ICU nurses, traumatologists, ambulance technicians, emergency medical technicians, registered general nurses, fire and rescue crew, emergency medical dispatchers and emergency rescue doctors,” he said.

The company also has training instructors and flight dispatch including two crew pilots operating on 24-hour standby.

Mr Halsted said the HAC Medical call centre operates 24 hours a day with a total crisis team of eight dispatchers fully trained to give medical advice over the phone to those in need of medical attention.

“They assist in emergency management until an ambulance is dispatched to the scene. We strive to respond to patient’s emergency and urgent care needs quickly and safely to save lives and reduce anxiety, pain and suffering,” he said.

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