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Private air ambulance services begin for Taiwan's outlying islands

2018-08-09  English News
Photo courtesy of CNA
Photo courtesy of CNA
Taipei, Aug. 8 (CNA) Premier Lai Ching-te promised Wednesday to strengthen medical talent cultivation and improve medical resource efficiency for Taiwan's outlying islands, while witnessing the launch of aircraft emergency medevac services by private airlines for Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.

At the launch ceremony at Taipei Songshan Airport, Lai said that because he was a physician who used to serve in the military on Kinmen, he has a good understanding of the insufficiencies in medical and health services there.

He also thanked the Ministry of the Interior's National Airborne Service Corps (NASC) for already providing emergency air ambulance services for people on the islands, adding that the corps will continue to provide backup support after the launch of the new service by two private airlines.

The Executive Yuan approved in September 2016 the emergency medical care project undertaken by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The ministry decided July 28, 2017 to award the bid to Executive Aviation Taiwan Corp. (EATC) and Emerald Pacific Airlines Co., which provide airplane- and helicopter-based services, to offer emergency medevac services to residents of the three island counties.

Under the plan, a jet will be stationed on Kinmen, while two helicopters will be stationed on Penghu and Matsu, respectively.

The emergency aircraft will be used to transfer critically and seriously ill patients from the islands to hospitals in Taiwan to receive emergency treatment that local hospitals are ill-equipped to provide, Lai said.

The new services are expected to cut travel time between the islands to Taiwan proper by half.

Taking Penghu as an example, it could save about 80 minutes in travel time by helicopter.

Lai also promised to push forward a "doctor on-call" system and to strengthen medical talent cultivation, improve medical equipment and facilities and enhance medical and health care services in local communities.

In the past, the NASC was tasked with providing such services for the outlying islands, Interior Minister Hsu Kuo-yung said during the ceremony, adding that NASC helicopters flew 2,500 sorties in the three island counties over last year alone.