Croatia to Launch Emergency Helicopter Medical Service

Total Croatia News

Health minister Siniša Varga said on Thursday said that the pilot project for helicopter emergency medical service, which will be financed by a World Bank loan, is necessary for the development of modern medicine in Croatia. The program costs 8.5 million kuna, and will include two bases on the islands of Krk and Brač and helicopters that will cover the Croatian coast and hinterland, reports Novi List on August 21, 2015.

“After the public tender, the Ministry of Health selected the offer of Italian companies EliFriulia and Airgreen which will over four months provide two helicopters, flight crews, hangars and mechanical maintenance service”, said Varga at a press conference.

He said that the parameters and the cost of the contracts was set by experts, and the accepted offer was five percent less expensive than estimated. On the basis of established parameters, a tender for long-term project will be announced, co-financed by local tourist boards, while part of the costs will be covered from the state budget. He added that the medical part of the crew will comprise of doctors and technicians from the local medical institutions with experience in such interventions.

The service will be free to people insured through the Croatian Health Insurance Institute and citizens with the European health insurance card, while the tourists will pay for the service through their individual insurance packages, as is the standard practice.

“Croatian Mountain Rescue Service has been involved in the project from the beginning, and the Ministry of Defence, which will also continue to cooperate in the project, supports this decision”, said Varga. Search and rescue operations will be conducted through cooperation with the Ministry of Defence, Croatian Mountain Rescue Service and other relevant authorities. The advantage of helicopter medical service in comparison with transport by military helicopters is that the treatment of patients can start during transport to the hospital. Helicopters can land on demanding terrain in the immediate vicinity of the injured and they are equipped with a small intensive care unit.

Helicopters will be piloted by Italian pilots since Croatia does not have pilots trained to fly such helicopters. “Not one Croatian company has such helicopters, and outside of the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defence, there are no such pilots”, explained Miljenko Bura, assistant health minister.

A third military helicopter will remain available, especially for night flights. Bora explained that even Austria, which has a long tradition of emergency medicine, is only now beginning to address the issue of night flights, which Croatia will do in the future as well.


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