The daily routine of the Coordenação de Operações Aéreas (COA) in Rio de Janeiro has been hugely impacted by the crisis. Prior to the outbreak, COA operations usually involved the transport of the governor and his/her close collaborators. With the arrival of the pandemic, the team now supports the State Military Fire Department to carry out inter-hospital transport of Covid-19 patients with their H135 helicopter.
“The procedures before and after flight have drastically changed with the crisis”, explains Lieutenant Colonel Marcelo de Carvalho Mendes. “A briefing with the medical teams has become essential to prepare the flight and we also need to put a lot of attention to carefully removing our protective equipment once the flight is over. We have also developed new protocols to disinfect the aircraft in order to eliminate the risk of contamination.”
“The procedures before and after flight have drastically changed with the crisis,” explains Lieutenant Colonel Marcelo de Carvalho Mendes.
To isolate the patient inside the H135 cabin, the COA uses a stretcher with protective cover which efficiently protects the crew and medical team. The device also reduces the time needed for disinfecting the aircraft between the missions.
“The biggest challenge for the crew is keeping emotionally strong as this is a new disease with still many unknowns,” adds Carvalho. “However, we have quickly adapted to wearing personal safety equipment, which include waterproof clothing, gloves, masks and glasses – and with this protective gear, the operations are conducted smoothly.”
Credit: Coordenação de Operações Aéreas (COA)
Based in Panama City, Rent A’ Kopter’s main operation is the transport of passengers for business or leisure, but the restrictive measures put in place by the authorities to stop the spread of the virus have put their activities in hold. In light of the current conditions, the company has put their H125 and H130 helicopters at the disposal of the Panamanian government and has actively participated in the “Plan Panamá Solidario”, in support of the country’s most disadvantaged communities.
“We have been flying to difficult access areas in the provinces of Chiriquí, Colón and Darién to distribute food and essential goods to the population,” says Operations Chief, Jack Betesh.
“We have flown more than 80 hours and traversed the country to reach villages 400 km away from our base. Our team is extremely committed to help the most vulnerable in these difficult times and despite the distance, we feel that we are ‘transporting hope’ to those in need.”
Credit: Rent A' Kopter