India’s premier medical institute, AIIMS, is set to become the first government hospital in the country to get a helipad and start an air ambulance service to deliver urgent medical attention to critically ill patients. An application by AIIMS is being processed by the ministry of civil aviation and permission has been sought to construct a helipad. Senior doctors say close to 50% of critical patients in India die on their way to hospital.

“Keeping in mind the dense population and heavy traffic in Delhi, air ambulances could be a great help,” said a doctor, though he pointed out that the expense involved in airlifting patients will have to be underwritten. The service won’t come cheap. Transferring a patient, say from Chandigarh to Delhi, could cost close to Rs 1.5 lakh.

The helicopter ambulance will have paramedic staff and a doctor trained to handle critical patients. The staff on board and on the ground will be given special training on transporting patients in these choppers.

The service will be available at the AIIMS trauma centre which has been operational for the past 10 months though it is yet to be formally inaugurated. Said Dr Shakti Gupta, AIIMS spokesperson, “”While some private hospitals across the country and in Delhi have air ambulance service, AIIMS is the first government hospital in the country which has made a provision for a helipad at its newly constructed trauma centre.”

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