Emergency Air Rescue

Executive Air in association with EMRAS operates an aero medical evacuation arm, Life Flight. Operational from the 1st September 2009 and with full CAAZ licensing this service provides a 24 hour fixed wing air evacuation capability within Zimbabwe and the SADC region.

The types of air ambulance work undertaken include but may not be limited to:

  • Emergency air evacuations of medical aid/international assistance patients and paying patients within Zimbabwe.
  • Emergency evacuation of patients from countries within the region to Zimbabwe or South Africa.
  • Transfer of non emergency cases from Zimbabwe / SADC region to Zimbabwe or South Africa for further medical treatment
  • Accompaniments / repatriation of patients on commercial airline flights to regional / international destinations.

Aircraft

The aircraft being utilized primarily will be a pressurized Twin Turbine powered King Air, and secondly, unpressurised Twin Piston Engine Cessna 402 and Piper Navajo. There is an Air team on call 24 hours a day consisting of a doctor, a flight sister and pilots. A second air medical team is also on standby to back up the first air team or undertake a second unrelated flight if necessary.

Availability of multiple aircraft with varying capabilities gives us a high degree of flexibility in mission planning and execution. This coupled with EMRAS in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Kwekwe, Mutare and Masvingo means that patients are assured of continuity of care pre, during and post evacuation.

EMRAS Flight Sisters take responsibility for ensuring that the patient is a member or that payment is made or guaranteed. The on-call Doctor is in charge of making a medical decision as to the necessity of the flight for the patient – being cognizant of the conditions of the facility where the patient is at the time, the hazards of movement by air and the time taken for transfer. For local evacuations however we aim to be airborne within an hour of initial contact.

The Executive Air pilot makes the final decision regarding the flight taking into account the time of day, condition of the nearest airfield, weather and aircraft performance. This multidisciplinary approach combined with up to date equipment and an experienced team ensures that your member or patient is assured of a prompt professional cost effective and above all safe evacuation.

 

EMRAS – Emergency Medical Rescue Ambulance Service

24hr emergency contact number
(+263) 4 250011

History

By early 2001, with the rapidly growing populations of Harare, the effects of HIV and the difficult economic conditions, ambulance services in Harare were often hard pressed to cope with demand. This situation thankfully saw a significant improvement with the launch, in October 2001, of a new private ambulance service in Harare. The service, the Emergency Medical Rescue Ambulance Service or EMRAS as it is known was the brainchild of a group of Harare based doctors.

The service, which operates 24 hrs a day, seven days a week started operations with two Nissan Caravan ambulances based in Harare. Due to a rapid increase in utilization a third ambulance was introduced in early 2002. EMRAS also introduced a new concept in patient transportation in Harare in the form of their AMBIVAN. This stands for Ambulant (BUT) assisted Movement between Institutions by Vehicle a Necessity. The AMBIVAN provides cost effective comfortable transportation to doctors’ visit, hospital, physiotherapy or a range of other medical related areas where full ambulance transportation is not needed but assistance is essential. The vehicle carries an extensive medical kit and is crewed by an Ambulance Technician. It is ideal for the elderly and infirm and has already become a firm favourite with frail care centers and homes for the elderly.

Staffing and Equipment

The General Manager of EMRAS is Mr Craige Turner (RGN, DHT) former General Manager of MARS and one of the people who set up MARS. Each Base is headed by a Base Manager, all of whom have many years’ experiences in pre-hospital care and the ambulance services.

Ambulances are crewed by two Registered Ambulance Technicians or an EMT or Registered General Nurse and Registered Ambulance Technician thus facilitating intermediate or advanced life support (ILS/ALS) intervention if required. The vehicles which have been imported fully configured from Japan are routinely equipped with full fracture and spinal immobilization equipment, airway management equipment as well as a full range of intravenous fluids, emergency drugs, oxygen and patient monitoring equipment. Defibrillators and transport ventilators are also on hands for use as necessary.

EMRAS currently employs some of the most experienced pre-hospital care practitioners in Zimbabwe with a wealth of experience in the field of emergency medicine. Ambulances currently in use include Nissan Caravans Toyota Hiaces and Toyota Quantum. All ambulances are linked by way of VHF radios to their respective Control Rooms ensuring rapid response to calls and rerouting as necessary.

Control Rooms are manned 24 hours a day by experienced Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMD) who, after dispatching ambulances to assist callers, are able to give advise and potentially life saving instructions to the caller while the ambulance is on route using the simple but effective MEDIC system (Medical Emergency Dispatcher Information for Callers) devised by EMRAS.

Mode of Operations and Roles

EMRAS, in addition to responding to emergency calls from the public, also undertake inter hospital transfers, diagnostic transfers and general ambulance transport duties, for example taking patients for physiotherapy or dialysis.

EMRAS also provides for long range road ambulance transfers from other centers back to Harare. Numerous such transfers have been effected over the last several years with patients having been moved from Karoi, Gweru, Mutare, Kadoma, Bindura, Marondera, Chivhu and even as far as Bulawayo back to Harare, for treatment not available in smaller centers.

Training and Public Event Cover

EMRAS in addition to establishing and running the aforementioned ambulance bases also offers a wide range of training course. Numerous courses have been run in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Gweru. These range from one day CPR course to Basic First Aid (2 day) and Advanced First Aid (4 day) course. Courses can also be designed to meet the individual needs of specific clients.

In association with St Johns Ambulance EMRAS has also now opened a training school, specializing in the training of Ambulance Technicians. This school the Joint Services Ambulance Training School, took its first intake of students in March 2004 following registration with the Allied Health Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe thus becoming only the third recognized registered AT training school in the country.

EMRAS played a leading role in Cricket World Cup 2003 (Zimbabwe) with the service providing the bulk of EMS cover at World Cup events in both Harare and Bulawayo. The General Manger Mr. Turner was appointed Medical Advisor to the ZCU & EMS coordinator for this very large and prestigious event. EMRAS continues to provide on site medical cover for all international cricket test matches and ODI’S in Harare and Bulawayo as well as providing cover at numerous other sporting events.

By the end of 2005 EMRAS had a total fleet countrywide of fifteen ambulances, making it the second largest and fastest growing EMS provider in the country. Plans are at an advanced stage to open further bases in smaller centers with Victoria Falls, Bindura, Chiredzi, Chipinge and perhaps Hwange having been identified for developments during the latter part of 2008.

The Harare Base Control Room also houses the Crisis line for Telecel Zimbabwe (Telcare 911) giving Telecel Subscribers countrywide access to police, fire and ambulance services through use of one internationally recognized emergency number (911). In early 2005 EMRAS was approached by Medic Alert Foundation (Zimbabwe) with a view to its (EMRAS) taking over the day to day running of the Medic Alert National Call Centre. Following successful negotiations between the two parties it was agreed that this call center would be located in the EMRAS (Harare Base) Control Room giving EMRAS crews, other health care providers and the public at large instant access to members medical details at the touch of a button. The Medic Alert data base, held on computer at EMRAS is updated daily.

In February 2005, Engineering Medical Aid Fund chose to contract to EMRAS to provide EMS services to its members countrywide becoming the second major medical aid to do so. Since this time several other medical aids have contracted to or have agreements with EMRAS including Generation Health, MASCA and BUPA, MARS International and Good Health Assistance companies.

MRAS Growth and Expansion

While EMRAS had started operations on a modest scale in Harare the Service was already looking further a field with a view to establishing itself in other centers.

Operations in Harare were intended to augment and complement the services of the existing ambulance services both private and municipal while providing the public with an affordable but professional and efficient service. In late 2002 a further three vehicles were imported from Japan with the intention of expanding the service within Harare and facilitating expansions into other centers. These vehicles came on line in January 2003.

Growth up and until January 2003 notwithstanding EMRAS was desirous of acquiring a strategic partner to facilitate its expansion into other centers. To this end negotiations were entered into with Premier Service Medical Aid Society in early 2003. This culminated in a joint venture partnership between EMRAS and PSMAS with the latter acquiring a 51% interest in EMRAS in April 2003. This was subsequently increased to 100% in April 2004 making EMRAS a wholly owned PSMI subsidiary. With their backing and in an effort now to service PSMAS members countrywide EMRAS embarked upon a period of rapid growth and expansion. PSMAS being the largest Medical aid society in Zimbabwe.

A base was opened in Bulawayo in June 2003 with two ambulances and an initial staff and compliment of fourteen. The arrival of an alternate service in Bulawayo has been enthusiastically received with the Base having done 46 calls in its first month of operation. This has increased rapidly and by December 2005 Bulawayo was averaging over 220 calls a month. A third ambulance was deployed to Bulawayo in mid 2005 to cope with increased demand.

The Gweru Base went operational on 01 October 2003 with a similar number of staff and two ambulances. In its first week of operation the Gweru Base did 30 calls again illustrating the need for additional and alternate ambulance services. In Gweru EMRAS has its base in the grounds of Claybank Clinic. As both have links to or are a part of PSMAS, EMRAS is now the main provider of ambulance services to Claybank Hospital, the only private hospital in Gweru.

In January 2004 a further base was opened in Mutare. This base also operates two ambulances and is collocated with the PSMI Clinic in Mutare thus enhancing this facility while ensuring cohesion and continuity of care from scene of accident to hospital.

There was also, it was felt, potential for the establishment of a base in Kwekwe working under the direct control of the Gweru Base Manager. This option was explored further with a view to establishing such a Base by early 2005. The Kwekwe Base went operational on March 2005 and did 55 calls in its first month of operation. On 17 March 2006 a base was opened in Masvingo thus concluding EMRAS‘ push to establish bases in all main centers. The Kwekwe Base operates one ambulances while Masvingo has also started operations with one. This is soon to be increased to two.