Chopper now air ambulance

| 16/07/2012

IMG-20120713-00166 (225x300).jpg(CNS): Four members of the RCIPS Air support unit have been certified as emergency medical responders and, as a result, the police helicopter will now be able to act as an air-ambulance. Staffed by the tactical flight EMR officers who have been trained by the Health Service Authority, the chopper will enhance and support first line medical response in Cayman, especially in difficult locations or where time is critical to saving lives. The police commissioner said that, despite the controversies surrounding the machine, it continued to enhance the services the police could deliver to the community.

This initiative means that the RCIPS Air Operations Unit is now classified as one of the first ‘Helicopter Emergency Medical Service’ (HEMS) of its kind in the region and it will also now carry medical equipment, such as a heart defibrillator that was donated to the RCIPS by the Cayman Heart Fund. Helicopter awareness and safety training for the EMT paramedics is also underway and this will allow qualified health professionals to be deployed on board the helicopter when needed.

Police Commissioner David Baines said he was pleased about the partnership with the HSA and the Air Support Unit (ASU) as the helicopter, which had already saved lives, would save more in future. Now able to be deployed in a medical emergency as well as used in crime fighting and border patrol, the helicopter’s role as an air ambulance would be a priority for the ASU, Baines explained. He said that where there was a choice between a drug interdiction and a life to be saved in a critical road accident, the life would come first.

“This project will help us get the right people to the right situation where minutes cost lives," he added. “It’s about getting the most out of this expensive piece of equipment.”

Baines said that the chopper had completely changed the way the RCIPS was able to fight crime and the more uses the machine could be put to, the more value for money the public would get from the investment. He said that the RCIPS was still learning how best to use the helicopter and it was important to enhance the services it can offer, such as adding emergency medical support.

“The arguments will always go on about the helicopter … but this has changed the way we fight crime and has been an invaluable tool,” Baines said.

Neil Mohammed, Ronnie Pollard, Steve Day and Danny McIlhagga, the four crew members who recently completed the accredited EMR course, have been trained in CPR; managing muscle, bone, head and spine injuries; assisting with childbirth; and mass casualty incidents and triage.

The remaining members of the Air Operations Crew will be trained in August.  A number of Marine Unit officers will also attend that course and all of the police officers who complete the EMR course will be regularly assessed to ensure that they continue to meet the stringent standards required, officials said.

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Category: Health

Comments (28)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It amazes me that when ever something positive is introduced to this Island, so much negativity is brought about in readers comments.

    Clearly the negativity comes from those that have no idea or understanding about the concept and topic in question.

    Lighten up will you, this service is clearly a bonus for this island.

  2. Man Asunder says:

    This all too well prepared for TV/public consumption which should concern sensible people not having some very important factors in place which some posters have accurately pointed out makes this whole thing look like a publicity stunt no matter how noble and wonderful a program it is.

  3. Anonymous says:

    OK people, read the article.  It's about supllementing what we have in Cayman when available, not replacing anything.  If anybody on this Island makes any effort to better qualify their staff, support it.  The Health Service are behind this, not the police, and it is a surely to be commended.  You cannot train every police officer to this level, but a small number works?  Well done for those that are giving them some credit for trying, and also for committing to development of those individuals.  They do not replace the paramedics.  Hope they are around when I may need them!

  4. Anonymous says:

    A multi-functional emergency services helicopter covering police, ambulance, fire, search and rescue and coastguard response with the properly trained crews and equipment is exactly what this Island needs and has got.  God forbid that there is another hurricane to leave this Island devastated, but a helicopter in the HEMS role with highly trained EMS personnel able to operate day and night with the search tools of FLIR and a powerful searchlight as well as able to communicate with the other emergency services will reach those areas cut off by flooded and damaged roads to quickly rescue personnel and get them to the hospital inside that 'golden hour'. Or on any occasion where speed is the essence and an ambulance not available.  What price to save a life?  Those currently in denial will be grateful when it is their own or family members life that needs the personnel and equipment this asset can provide at short notice.  But then again, probably not.

  5. Anonymous says:

    There was already an air ambulance service, with Cayman Express always happy to help and able to reach the Sister Islands much faster. This brings nothing new. It’s not like they are going to send the chopper to the site of a car crash for instance; a normal ambulance car will get there in half the time. I don’t see the point really.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman Express are not sat on the ground ready to respond, they have to be set up IF they have a plane ready.  They will still be used, read the article, it is about adding to existing capability and helping, not replacing. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Mon 13:39  Why so ungrateful – be thankful – you don't know when it might be your turn to need it! The Bible says "…in everything give thanks". If there are people willing to do this try to appreciate their efforts!

  6. Anonymous says:

    So exactly where is the helipad at the hospital?  How useful will this be if the helicopter has to meet an ambulance at the airport?

    • Anonymous says:

      The  chopper have land cricket pitch in the past with ambulance waiting to collect patients which it is not a problem. They have save someone life who was suck in middle of island where ambulance have no access while chopper can land near the person.

      • Anonymous says:

        Someone also died in a similar rescue. No one is saying it is a problem to land anywhere but the reason areas are marked as helipads is for the common safety of everyone

  7. Anonymous says:

    Air Ambulance is a 24/7 operation which is a significant change from the previous sightseeing/drug intervention operation. Does this mean that RCIPS has hired additional crews to comply with CAA mandated duty time limits and rest requirements? After all, the crew won't be able to fly if they are in the pub at 11:30 on a Friday night.

    Given CAA requirements and good common sense, 24/7 standby coverage will require at least 4 sets of crew where there was only 1 before. If this is the case and If this has been budgeted, it would be interesting to see the business case that was put forward to justify even more money going to the helicopter operation.  

    Given the unique complexities and added expense of operating an air ambulance service, this is not a case of finding additional use without having to add significant expenses.

    If they have not set up a proper 24/7 air ambulance operation, they should not be publicising it as such. 

  8. Naya Boy says:

    Just a game i hear you and before we all jump off with on this wonderful innovative idea and feel good story by the Commissioner of Police i see no mention in his press release of an extremely serious issue that has plaque to recent resue helicopter crashes in the US and that is the point of liability insurance for this helicopter & Crew and coverage for this new purpose. Police patrols are one thing emergency service is another alot of add insurances issues transporting others including accident/emergency related issues and we had better be licenced and insured for such purposes god forbid and air accident occurs. Far too many times we jump off here because some high official thinks its a good idea to find out the necessary safe guards are not in place. The reactive nature of this government and Police service is a bit too predictable in far too many other cases involving the public's safety for my liking. What am saying in a nutshell some people need to get their $&#* together before they go out here trying to win brownie points by playing to the public gallery in order justifying the enormous expense and salaries. The devil is always in details!

  9. Len Layman says:

    This is great news.  It is nice to see these dedicated individuals receive training to further not just their careers but their service to the people of Cayman.  Good work and congratulations to you all.

  10. Just a Game mate says:

    How much is this going to cost the public purse,once again we see those who have arrived here re inventing the wheel and re branding and making statements which are clearly designed to build their own empires.Had some done their research they would have found out that the British Red Cross sometimed back had such training courses of which a few officers were qualified in this area of medical emergency care and due to past lackness by numerous of their UK run administrations of the RCIPS officers were not retrained or were not requalified. In fact several overseas courses also had this training as part of their training regiment which also included emergency triage. But alas all got lost in the confusion of their little dismantling program to re colonise the RCIPS Now reappearing as part of their so called modernisation program of the RCIPS. Yes Mr Baines we did not have a helicopter back them even though the United States Government offered to provide a much better aircraft with no cost to this island. Guess who vehemently refused to acceptit or entertain the offer??? You can fool some of the people all of the time and those are the ones you want to concentrate on!

    • Anonymous says:

      All police officers should have basic first aid training, but to be an EMT takes extra training that not all Police need. The officers who were trained before probably are still trained now if they kept up the refresher courses.

      Te point is can these old cops fly a helicopter? I doubt it.

      So shut up with your racist an ex-pat rant and be thankful that they will be there for you when you get crashed into by a drink driver in the east end and the ambulance is 30 minutes away.

      Why do some people have to make everything the police do so negative. If you think you can do a better job why not apply to the RCIPS, then you can spout your mouth off.

      • Anonymous says:

        The helicopter is not equipped with all the medical appliances that an ambulance has.  Any cop could be trained to be an EMT and I am certain could reach an EE victim before a helicopter can, by the time the crew muster at the airport and get the machine out of the hangar 30 mins has already gone. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m sorry – I find it impossible to understand your comment. If you are posting a negative comment about better emergency provision, regardless of history, I suggest you are seriously misguided. How can this report be anything other than a good thing?

  11. W@rLorD says:

    Congrats on your certification,use it well.

    • Good Decision says:

      Thank you Top Cop for making this decision with the HSA.  I think this is good news.  Please make sure that the EM Team is well learned and well qualified at all times to respond to these emergencies.  Especially in motor vehicle accidents, where many lives have been lost because the ambulance took too long to arrive.

      • Erik the Fish says:

        Let's just be clear here, this does not make the Helicopter an Air Ambulance, just a means of transporting officers who have a basic EMS responder certificate, the aircraft can not carry stretcher patients and as such has little real rescue value.

        It would have been better to buy a dual purpose helicopter from the outset, but "shinyitis" affected to purchasing decisions of certain people and their decision making process was impaired.

        This is not decrying the dedication and skills of the Air Operations Staff but this story is really misleading the public, what we need are some new ambulances and a Paramedic fast response vehicle.

        Landing the helicopter is fraught with danger and not possible in many parts of the Island because of overhead obstructions (especially at night) which makes it's deployment in these instances questionable at best.


        • Anonymous says:

          Ignorance is bliss which makes 'Eric the Fish' a blissfull man indeed.  The helicopter is fitted with a stretcher (see photo) and is capable of carrying stretcher patient and paramedic with crew.  This type of police helicopter routinely conducts casualty evacuations in the UK and mainly at night as the air ambulance UK do not operate at night.  The police helicopter with its FLIR and light and crew training has the ideal equipment to conduct night landings.  One comment 'The Fish' did manage to get correct was the difficulty with night landings particularly Cayman.  Training and rigid safety procedure will help alleviate this problem.  Fast response ambulances are great until they are all tied up elsewhere or the roads are impassable due to flooding/damage post hurricane or the casualty is in an inaccessible by vehicle location.  The aircraft is another resource to complement the EMS service when required.  Hopefully 'The Fish' will never have to call on its service.

          • Anonymous says:

            Their lies the real problem with alot of you, which you need to be constantly reminded of, this is not the UK.

      • Anonymous says:

        Good luck with that, response times it has never been a real problem but the responders definately have. The problem with this whole little program and concept is this, is there a helicopter pad at our near hospital?????? Aircraft is not an ambulance not equipped with essentail equipment to save lives.We applaud the suggestion however this must be thought out probably and implemented and should only be use in and extreme emergency only. Rescue helicopters are specialize aircraft.

  12. Anonymous says:

    This is good news but………….

    When Stuart Kernohan initiated the creation of the Air Support Unit he, based on extensive experience in the the UK, predicted that it would change the way the RCIPS fought crime. His concept of the ASU was simple – it would give RCIPS the proverbial 'high ground' and nothing could escape it.

    The surveillance package alone has the capacity to deny people like drug smugglers the cover of night to do their dirty work and as a law enforcement asset it should, as the previous operators proved time after time, have proven invaluable.

    But that's not what happened is it? Commissioner Baines is now struggling to justify the mere existence of the machine on the RCIPS budget so maybe people should be asking, "What went wrong?"

    Either the initial concept was flawed (which I doubt) or the helicopter is not being used in the same aggressive, crime-busting way it was in the UK.

    This article raises rather more questions than it answers.

    • Anonymous says:

      Of course it raises more questions than it answers – that's par for course in the Cayman Islands, especially under this administration.