Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Helipad for ‘Brave Heart Brothers’ (BEAR Team) on the roof of JDWNRH?

As a responsible citizen I dare to dream of this possible and very critical venture of building a helipad for our very own BEAR Team (Air Ambulance) on the roof of our National Referral Hospital. I strongly believe that there is a need to have one if the proximity of the present Helipad and the ever increasing traffic flow in between the Hospital and the Helipad is to be considered. 
The BEAR Team:Dr. Charlie Haviland Mize(middle), Lhab Dorji(right) and Kiran Biswas. 
The Bhutan Emergency Aeromedical Retrieval Team, also known as BEAR Team was initiated as the first-ever helicopter-based emergency team to deliver ICU-level emergency all across Bhutan. It won’t be fair if I don’t mention the names that constitute the BEAR Team: Dr. Charlie Haviland Mize, Lhab Dorji and Kiran Biswas. Since its inception the Team has managed to save many lives.  

At the moment the BEAR Team has to land first at Lungtenphug Army helipad some 4 kilometers away then their patients are taken the rest of the way by road. An ambulance has to drive along one of the busiest roads in Thimphu city (Babesa-Thimphu Express way) to finally reach the patients to the hospital. 
God forbid such situations where a critically ill patient has landed safely at the helipad with the help of BEAR Team but the patient does not make it to the hospital. On the way, the patient dies. It is certainly a loss for the family members. The Team will also definitely feel the loss. Why?

Losing a patient just a few kilometers away from the hospital after being airlifted tackling the ever challenging weather and the difficult terrain will be a grave loss for the BEAR Team. (Please accept my sincere ‘Thank you’ for doing what you do best- Saving Lives) The BEAR Team surely deserves all our respect and gratitude. I refer them with great respect as “Brave Heart Brothers”- Risking one’s life to save others.

So what are some of the benefits (Department of Health Estates and Facilities Division, Feb 2008) of having helipad on hospital’s rooftop? For that matter on JDWNRH’s rooftop!

1.So critically ill patients can be treated sooner: Having a helipad on the hospital roof will significantly reduce the amount of time it takes for a seriously ill patient to get to the expert care they urgently need. The quicker they can see a consultant, the better chance of survival and making a full recovery. It will help save many lives.

2.From both the aviation and the long-term planning perspectives, the best position for a hospital helipad is on the roof of the tallest building on the site because rooftops are generally unused space.  

3.It shall also raise the helicopters approach and departure paths by several stories high. This raised level reduces certain environmental impacts; particularly the noise and the dust that gets blown away from the ground when helicopters make their landing. The arrangement will not only be valuable for hospital activities but is also significantly likely to reduce complaints from neighbors. 

4.The rooftop helipad also provide unobstructed path to land and take off. The general lack of obstructions at rooftop level allows the helicopter to fly in smoother air compared with the turbulence that can be experienced when landing between buildings. This in turn will greatly reduce patient’s discomfort and the helicopter’s power requirements.

Click here to what's happening around the world in regard to elevated helipads.

The present Helipad was never built to bring in patients to the National Referral Hospital if its location is to be considered. The proximity to the Royal Bhutan Army Headquarter at Lungtenphug defines its prime purpose. However, as and when required it has served its purpose in many different ways. Receiving many delegates on their visit to Bhutan to name a few.

During the fall of 2016, the Team was engaged in airlifting a 14 year old boy from Tashigang. The boy’s live could have been saved by timely resuscitation ad emergency care facility. Interestingly it was only after this incident the BEAR Team was equipped with ICU-level emergency facility. One cannot effort to loss another life blaming the distance and the heavy traffic flow (in years to come it will be even worse) between the present Helipad and the National Referral Hospital. 

This morning I heard again the Helicopter hovering over my apartment only to see it land on the Helipad at Lungtenphug and after few minutes I hear the siren of an ambulance rushing towards JDWNRH. After many years of helicopter hovering and the dreaded ambulance siren, now it has become a routine to spare few seconds to pray for the sick to recover soon and to whisper a ‘Thank You’ note to the “Brave Heart Brothers!”

We Bhutanese are blessed to have benevolent Monarchs who care about its subjects the most. The Royal Government of Bhutan has been doing everything possible for our benefit. The Ministry of Health has always strive to do everything possible so to save more lives. For sure we cannot make miracles to happen. That’s not in our hands. 

Practically speaking, the BEAR Team also cannot save every patient they airlift but surely we can construct the Helipad on the roof in our collective attempt to help BEAR Team save more lives. I wish my dream comes true someday. All I wish is that we don’t regret of not being able to construct the helipad to save more lives. The new Helipad would also be our sincere gesture to acknowledge, support and honor the brilliant effort of our Brave Heart Brothers in all their life saving adventures! 

Department of Health Estates and Facilities Division. (Feb 2008). HBN 15-03 Emergency care: Hospital helipads. Quarry House, Leeds, LS2 7UE: Department of Health Estates and Facilities Division.

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