Bhutan plans 2 new air ambulance

Royal Bhutan Helicopter Service Limited will establish new bases at Mongar and Gelephu, which will provide medical evacuation services for the eastern and southern parts of the Himalayan Kingdom.

Kuensel, the national newspaper of Bhutan reported that Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering on Wednesday announced at Gelephu about the setting up of the two new air ambulance bases.

The new air ambulance bases are expected to offer improvements to medical response times and provide better access to healthcare facilities for remote communities, the Prime Minister said.

At present, medical responses are often disrupted due to poor weathers, as well as the country’s often mountainous terrain. A lot of critically ill patients in the southern and eastern periphery of the country visit Assam and West Bengal for treatment.

The Royal Bhutan Helicopter Service Limited plans to purchase new helicopters for the bases, and is also working out modalities for recruitment of new flight and ground crew.

The Bhutanese Prime Minister said acquisition of aircraft could take around two years.

 “With more Covid relaxation, more cases and patients will require medical assistance, which will burden the frontline workers,” Dr Lotay Tshering, who is also a doctor, said.  

The choppers will facilitate referral hospitals in Thimphu, Mongar and Gelephu to ensure timely medical airlifts uninterrupted by bad weather.

At present, the Royal Bhutan Helicopter Service Limited operates two Airbus H130 helicopters, operating from its main base in Paro International Airport.

The Royal Bhutan Helicopter Service Limited carried out 109 medical evacuations in 2021, and also provides helicopter services for aerial firefighting, the delivery of emergency supplies, as well as local and tourist charter flights.

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