The number of patients transported by air ambulances exceeded 5,000 on Wednesday, six years after the “Dr. Helicopter” began its operation.
Air ambulances refer to helicopters allocated to regional emergency medical centers, which are armed with up-to-date medical equipment and used to dispatch medical staffs upon requests as well as carry and treat patients in emergency situations.
It is important to provide immediate treatment for patients with the critical condition and transfer them to medical institutions swiftly. As the nation’s emergency healthcare resources are concentrated in Seoul and other metropolises, however, doctors have experienced difficulties keeping “golden time” in treating patients in islands or remote mountain areas or transporting them to large medical institutions.
Accordingly, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW)보건복지부 selected six areas to operate air ambulances for fast treatment in the remote areas in 2011 and has since assigned and run them, nicknamed as “Dr. Helicopters.”
Air ambulances, which started operation in September 2011, transported 76 emergency patients in that year, and the number increased to 320 in 2012, 485 in 2013, 950 in 2014, 941 patients in 2015, and 1,196 last year. The number exceeded 4,000 in January and 5,000 patients on Wednesday.
After the introduction of air ambulances in 2011, 56.1 percent of the patients they carried had three major severe diseases – serious injuries, cerebrovascular diseases, and cardiovascular diseases – and the other 43.9 percent had various other problems, including difficulty with breathing, burn, and shock.
The ministry will expand the operation of air ambulances to 11 areas and plans, and enhance cooperation not only with hospitals but also with other agencies, such as fire stations and the maritime police.
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