On Wednesday, just after 1:00 pm, the new medevac helicopter arrived at Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport on Saba. This writes The Daily Herald. The new helicopter is a Bell 430 model and is much larger than the current model, a Bölkow 105, which has been in use until now. The new 430 is not only larger, it is faster, has air conditioning and is equipped with on-board oxygen. There is room for a friend or family member to fly with the patient and there is much more room for the nurse to move freely.
Around 25 people came to the airport on Wednesday, including the director of Saba Health Care Foundation Dr. Joka Blaauboer and Island Commissioner Bruce Zagers. The pilots who flew the medevac helicopter to Saba took their time to explain its features. According to them, this is a very reliable model, which is widely used in the USA. It has previously flown many missions in Idaho.
The Bell 430 also has a feature called IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) which is commonly used on large commercial airplanes. This means the helicopter can fly on autopilot the entire route and can fly through clouds without problems. The pilots will still be responsible for take-off and landing the machine safely.
Blaauboer told The Daily Herald she was extremely pleased with the arrival of the second medevac helicopter. “For the past three years we had to rely on one helicopter and because of periodical maintenance, the machine was not available for weeks every year” she explained.
Commissioner Zagers was very impressed and called it “a huge improvement.” The Dutch Ministry of Health (Ministerie van Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport) subsidised the new medevac. The “old” Bölkow helicopter will remain in service as well and will function as a backup. Both helicopters will be stationed and serviced on St. Eustatius. Next week, the nurses and ambulance staff on Saba will be trained to fully benefit the helicopter’s many useful capabilities.