LANGKAWI: The Langkawi Hospital air ambulance service, which begins today, will help expedite treatment for emergency cases requiring transfers to other hospitals.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya said the service, using an Airbus H135 9M-DRA helicopter, will cut short travel time from the hospital to other medical facilities on the mainland.
He said the service would be provided with cooperation from Aerial Power Lines Sdn Bhd (APL) under a two-year contract.
“Based on records, 20 emergency cases from the island have to be referred to Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital each month, with the hospital having to use the ferry service or sea ambulance to send patients to the mainland, taking up to four hours of travel. Sometimes, such service has to be delayed due to rough sea conditions,” he told reporters after launching the air ambulance service.
Dr Hilmi said the air ambulance service could help the 120,000 Langkawi residents and four million tourists who visit the island each year.
He said the deal with APL was for 40 flying hours between the hospital and the mainland, at a cost of RM10 million each year.
The air ambulance, installed with up-to-date medical equipment, can accommodate two medical officers and a patient.
On another note, Dr Hilmi said the construction of a new building at Langkawi Hospital, costing RM500 million, would be completed in three years.
He said the new building would increase the hospital bed capacity from 190 currently to 340.