China’s first medical helicopter begins service in Beijing

World Today

With a population larger than all of Australia, rush hour traffic in Beijing has been a nightmare for ambulance drivers. Officials hope to change that and save more lives with the introduction of China’s first professional air-ambulance. CCTV America’s Grace Brown reports.

China's first medical helicopter begins service in Beijing

Beijing traffic jams are legendary with a population bigger than the whole of Australia, rush hour on the ring roads can be a nightmare for ambulance drivers. Things are about to change, though, with the introduction of China's first professional air-ambulance, which officials say will save many more lives. CCTV America's Grace Brown reports.

A twin-engine Airbus helicopter is making history as China’s first fully-equipped air-ambulance. The helicopter will carry out emergency rescue missions, including transporting patients to hospitals. Sliding doors allow patients to be loaded and unloaded quickly and it is packed with the latest medical and monitoring equipment.

A landing helipad is not essential either.

“If you have any open field, even a playground, that’s enough space to land. It doesn’t need to be a helipad. Any of these places can receive landing permits,” said Tian Zhenbiao, the vice-director of Beijing 999 Emergency Rescue Medical Center.

While the helicopter can allow faster transport in the air, the capital’s often heavy smog could slow it down.

“We will judge the conditions at the time and decide if its safe to fly,” said Tian.

There are nearly 900 air medical helicopters and 10,000 commercial helicopters in the United States, with a population of 360 million. Yet in China, with a population of 1.3 billion, has only 400 commercial helicopters.

The air ambulance is already receiving calls, and it’s likely more Chinese cities will add such vehicles to their emergency response teams.