Luxembourg, 3 May 2017 - Wherever in the world and for whatever reason a patient needs help, European Air Ambulance (EAA) stands ready to provide emergency aeromedical transport – so when a woman was attacked by a shark off one of the most remote islands on earth, EAA was the obvious choice to quickly and safely transport her home.
The British woman was swimming off Ascension Island in the South Atlantic when the attack happened. Her husband fought off the shark, but not before the woman suffered severe bite wounds to her leg, leaving her in a serious condition.
She received emergency treatment at the small hospital on the island, but needed specialist medical care – so the Ascension Island Government called on EAA to urgently repatriate her to London.
Lying in the South Atlantic roughly midway between the coasts of Africa and South America, and measuring just 88 square km, Ascension Island is extremely difficult to reach. Recent problems have seen flights onto and off the island limited to essential personnel and goods only. A Royal Mail ship visits every three weeks, but this service has also been disrupted recently - meaning travel to and from the island is currently near-impossible.
However EAA’s reputation as a world leader in emergency aeromedical transport - with an upgraded fleet of Learjet 45XRs that can better serve remote areas, and with two previous successful repatriations from the island - made it the obvious choice.
As soon as the call came into their headquarters at Luxembourg Airport, EAA’s Mission Control team started planning the operation – no small task with more than 7000km to cover in each direction.
The route was planned, overflight permits arranged, and landing permits obtained for the two refueling stops required each way – at Agadir in Morocco and Liberian capital Monrovia on the way out, and at Guinean capital Conakry and Agadir on the return flight to London.
The flight crew were called up, with an emergency physician and intensive care nurse, and after the long outward journey they arrived on Ascension Island to collect the patient. Following a full handover she was taken on board the LJ45XR, which like the rest of EAA’s fleet is equipped with advanced medical equipment and acts as an in-transit critical care unit.
After a successful return journey, during which her condition was constantly monitored, the team arrived in London and handed the patient over to the hospital specialists.
EAA Director of Sales and Marketing, Patrick Schomaker said: “These were highly unusual circumstances, involving a patient with rarely-seen injuries (there were only 81 shark attacks reported worldwide last year), and distances that made the mission all the more complicated.
“However, thanks to our state-of-the-art air ambulances and highly experienced medical and flight crews, we offer some of the most comprehensive air rescue services in the world, and are building a reputation as a sought-after partner to insurance and assistance companies, governments, NGOs, corporations and individuals worldwide.”