Phoenix Air Ambulance helps patients rise from Covid ashes
By Peter Ng'etich | March 9th 2021
Living through the Covid-19 season has been scary for many people around the world, Kenya included.
The virus has claimed more than 2.5 million lives, and according to scientists, the disease could be with us for the foreseeable future even with the ongoing rollout of vaccines globally.
This calls for quick medical attention, especially in cases where patients need ventilators to aid in breathing.
With the threat of the disease becoming more serious, players in the medical evacuation field such as Phoenix Aviation have strengthened their aeromedical transfers in Kenya and Africa, targeting high net-worth individuals seeking emergency transport services.
Through its subsidiary Phoenix Global Air Ambulance, the company, which is domiciled at Nairobi’s Wilson Airport, uses a fleet of eight aircraft to offer the service.
Some of the aircraft are capable of landing in unpaved airstrips closer to where the patients are and airlift them to hospitals for specialised medical care.
Phoenix Aviation, which also owns modern aircraft repair and maintenance facilities at Wilson Airport, said aviation was a highly regulated and complex industry.
“Our approvals cover repair, maintenance and modifications on the Beechcraft KingAir B200/B300 series, Cessna C208 series, Cessna Citation C550B Bravo, Cessna Citation C560XL Excel and Cessna C680 Sovereign aircraft,” says the firm on its website.
Phoenix engineers hold multi-category licences with type ratings to adequately cover the firm’s aircraft.
“Our maintenance personnel receive manufacturer factory training at the Flight Safety International training centre in Wichita, USA,” says the firm.
It adds that regular and recurrent training of its engineers and technicians ensures that they are up to date with the latest technology, skills, procedures and regulatory updates to ensure technical safety standards are upheld.
Phoenix has five jets and three turbo propeller aircraft for medical evacuations, which are usually available on a 24-hour basis.
The company's 24-hour operations control centre (OCC) is responsible for flight planning, flight coordination, flight following and dispatch of all Phoenix Aviation flights. “All flight operators are trained on the use of modern computerised flight planning systems,” says the firm.
The company’s OCC is fully equipped with modern communication facilities, including satellite communication for tracking and monitoring of flights globally and which maintains constant communication with the crew at all times. “Our OCC team is trained in emergency response, airside safety management, crew resource management, radio and satellite communication, weight and balance planning and dangerous goods among other technical skills,” says Phoenix.
The planes are equipped with a single patient isolation unit accompanied by an intensive care unit nurse and a doctor.
Dr Lucy Ngethe, a medical specialist with the unit, says apart from the ICU specialists, the plane is operated by two expert pilots and three nurses.
Before each evacuation, the medics assess the patient’s condition, taking into consideration the underlying conditions like cardiac ailments, diabetes, hypertension or the need for specialised treatment, such as chemotherapy or any other medication.
Dr Emmanuel Wanyela, a medic, says care for the patients from the picking point to the specialised hospital takes priority with every evacuation.
Phoenix boasts a 25-year history of air ambulance experience in hostile and non-hostile areas and operates the service as a one-stop-shop for all aeromedical needs.
Patients are transferred globally through partners upon the advice of specialists and a determination on the most efficient and economical solution for the patient’s needs. “We offer quick response, bed-to-bed service for transporting a patient from any location to their home country or other destination to receive medical care,” says Dr Wanyela.
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