As Covid-19 runs amok, Delhi airport's air ambulance initiative brings relief

Nearly 100 movements of Covid-positive patients have taken place at the Delhi airport during the past month

As Covid-19 runs amok, Delhi airport's air ambulance initiative brings relief
Representative image. Source:

The Delhi airport continues to play a prominent role in India's fight against Covid-19.

The Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) had launched Covid testing at the airport, an app for contactless end-to-end travel, a 'computer vision' technology to track passengers, reduce waiting time and ensure social distancing at airport terminals, facilitated the Covid vaccination drive by hosting aircraft carrying vaccines and through state-of-the-art time and temperature-sensitive distribution systems.

Under the current scenario of Covid surge and a crippling shortage of oxygen, medicines and other medical equipment, DIAL has hosted aircraft carrying essential supplies from various parts of the world. It has emerged as a hub for the handling and distribution of Covid aid. 

Now DIAL has gone a step further by gearing up its emergency handling services. Accordingly, the airport's general aviation terminal and the dedicated aircraft parking apron are being used to handle air ambulance services for the safe and quick movement of critical Covid patients, DIAL said in a statement. 

The airport operator added that with 12 aircraft currently allowed to fly from the airport, nearly 100 movements of Covid-positive patients have taken place during the past month. These planes are available with medevac operations.   

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In this difficult time when the country is facing a raging Covid storm, with positive cases rising alarmingly, the Delhi airport's facilities are being used to ferry patients in the quickest possible time for treatment and later shift them back to their homes. 

The airport has been handling air ambulance services to all domestic airports and several international ones, including those in Germany, Dubai, Zurich, Dhaka, Kathmandu and so on.   

"The pandemic has brought about unprecedented sufferings and anxiety to mankind. At this time of emergency, providing timely and speedy medical assistance is of paramount importance to us. DIAL continues to extend its helping hand to the affected ones during the pandemic in all possible ways. Air ambulance service to ferry Covid-19 patients is one of the most needed services at this point. We are able to efficiently handle the air ambulance service due to the new state-of-the-art general aviation terminal which was commissioned last year," said Videh Kumar Jaipuriar, CEO, DIAL. 

Also read: As Covid-19 vaccine nears India launch, Delhi airport prepares for pivotal role

The patients who are transported in these air ambulances are kept in isolation pods, equipped with German-made protective covers and a supply of oxygen. Under the current circumstances, Covid-positive patients can be accompanied by only a doctor, a paramedical officer and a nurse. These doctors are certified to handle critical care while flying. The air ambulances are provided with complete facilitation services by Fixed Base Operators (FBO) and DIAL’s operational team according to the requirements.  

Often these flights have to be arranged at very short notice (sometimes at an hour's notice). This requires expedited coordination among all stakeholders to ensure that all the necessary approvals are arranged on time. "Airports and FBO staff are operating 24x7 with a backup plan of manpower and resources to handle such air ambulance flights on priority," DIAL stated. 

All the necessary Covid protocols regarding sanitisation and fumigation and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits are followed for the operation of these air ambulance services, the DIAL release added.