Nationwide air ambulance project set to take off

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Mumbai | November 28, 2014 7:52 AM

Air ambulance service, which is common in developed countries, is expected to kick off in India in the last quarter of 2015.

Air ambulance service, which is common in developed countries, is expected to kick off in India in the last quarter of 2015. (Image: HEMS brochure)Air ambulance service, which is common in developed countries, is expected to kick off in India in the last quarter of 2015. (Image: HEMS brochure)

India will soon have a nationwide air ambulance service which could turn out to be affordable for common people with a monthly salary of Rs 15,000 or an insurance cover.

Helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS), which is common in developed countries, is expected to kick off in India in the last quarter of 2015, with three companies — Aviators Air Rescue Pvt Ltd, an Indian operator, Air Medical Group Holdings Inc, an air medical provider in the US and Airbus Helicopters — signing a tripartitie agreement.

To start with, the proposed HEMS will begin operations from South India, using three Airbus Helicopters-built EC135 T3/P3 helicopters operated by Aviators. “More such helicopters are expected to be phased in during 2016 for expanded nationwide coverage. We expect to cover the entire country within three years as we are adding at least even helicopters per year,” said Arun Sharma, managing director of Aviators Air Rescue.

“This service will be affordable to a person drawing a monthly salary of Rs 15,000-20,000. It’s very affordable and we are putting our final touches to the numbers,” Sharma told The Indian Express. “Each helicopter will be operated by two pilots and two medical crew. This service will be available nationwide with at least one helicopter covering the state,” he said.

Sharma said the company is in discussions with insurance companies to make it affordable to common people. “There will be a premium to avail such a service. The service is affordable without insurance in its current offering,” Sharma said.

He said in this first phase, there will be seven helicopters with a total investment of approximately $60 million. “We will tie up with hospitals and discussions are in the final stages,” he said.

What can really make the HEMS popular and affordable will be the availability of insurance coverage for using such facilities. “One simple possibility is to give such emergency cover add-on cover to health and PA policies. The add-on cover is possible with life insurance policies. Yes, there will be extra premium for the add-on cover but it may not be significant,” said former IRDA Member (life) KK Srinivasan.

The project has selected EC135 T3/P3 helicopter made by Airbus. “With the support of Airbus Helicopters and Air Medical Group Holdings which are leaders in their respective fields, Aviators will provide top-notch air medical services,” Sharma said.

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