SVG Air terminates its air ambulance service
August 13, 2010
SVG Air terminates its air ambulance service

For many years, SVG Air has been the only carrier within the Eastern Caribbean to provide a service to airlift persons seeking medical assistance.{{more}}

That is until now.

According to management of SVG Air, a decision has been made to discontinue the service.

The announcement comes in the wake of last week’s disappearance of a CESSNA 402 aircraft owned and operated by the local airline, which was on a mission to airlift two accident victims out of Canouan.

“Sometimes when we go into these night missions, we are risking our lives and we have no insurance for the plane if it gets damaged,” Paul Gravel, Managing Director of SVG Air told SEARCHLIGHT.

“But we do it because it is a matter of life and death, we put the risks aside and go help somebody,” he continued.

But the airline official said that as a result of the tragedy last week, they have decided to discontinue the service after having performed hundreds of missions.

“The air ambulance was part of our service, we had plans to bring in an additional plane, but now we are getting out of the business completely,” Gravel explained.

The service extended to as far north as St Kitts and was frequently called upon to transport persons from other nearby Caribbean territories to Trinidad or Barbados to seek medical assistance.

He continued by saying that unless a patient is capable of being transported in an upright position, it therefore meant that the cancellation of the service translated into potential problems for persons with serious medical emergencies that needed to be airlifted to another country for treatment.

According to the SVG Air official, the CESSNA 402 was specially designed to facilitate such operations, as the design of the aircraft allowed for the accommodation of a stretcher and came equipped with life supporting devices, according to Gravel.

Gravel added that the low maintenance cost of the aircraft meant that the service was affordable to persons.

Gravel said the only other options open to them if they were to continue offering the service would include the purchase of a jet and medical equipment, which would be an expensive undertaking or the purchase of another CESSNA 402.

“Vincentians cannot afford to charter a jet, and we do not plan to get back with this type of aircraft (CESSNA 402).”

“We don’t want to put up with the type of risk involved with that aircraft,” he said. (DD)