EghtesadOnline: Six newly-purchased Airbus air ambulances (BK 117-C2), all purchased after the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions, officially joined Iran’s Emergency Medical Services’ fleet, marking the beginning of a new era for air medical services in the country.
“These helicopters were purchased after two years of negotiations … We expect the delivery of six more choppers in the near future,” Health Minister Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi said during a ceremony held for unveiling new ambulances in Karaj City’s Payam Airport on Saturday.
“We still need 40 more air ambulances … I hope we face no problem for purchasing them in the next five years,” the ministry’s website quoted Hashemi as saying.
The minister thanked the team of nuclear negotiators for helping improve the quality of EMS services in the country, according to Financial Tribune.
In August, Deputy Roads Minister Asghar Fakhrieh-Kashan announced that the Health Ministry was discussing the purchase of 45 HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) helicopters, noting that Iran wants to include the helicopter order into the Iran Air-Airbus contract signed in December 2016.
However, officials have provided no details about the helicopter purchasing contract.
New choppers, operated by the state-owned firm Ava Salamat Iranian, are the first air ambulances ever used in Iran. EMS has been operating 34 helicopters, all of which are leased from law-enforcement forces and army.
EMS transferred more than 19,000 people to hospitals in the last fiscal year (March 2017-18).
One of the choppers is now based in Iranshahr City in Sistan-Baluchestan Province. A helicopter is also sent to Khorasan Razavi Province. Small towns located near Tehran and Karaj cities are also among ministry’s priorities for operating newly-purchased air ambulances, since some of these towns do not have a hospital.
Since the beginning of President Hassan Rouhani’s administration, 2,400 ambulances and more than 240,200 motorbike ambulances have been added to EMS’ road fleet. The organization expects 1,400 more vehicles in the near future.
Plans are underway for enhancing marine EMS services.