A new contract is being negotiated for the medical evacuation helicopter services for St. Eustatius and Saba, Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk informed the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Wednesday. This writes the Daily Herald. The contract with the current helicopter service provider, National Helicopters Inc. from Canada will end on April 1, 2014. The Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports VWS is currently in negotiations with different parties for a new contract. Continuation of the contract with the Canadian firm is an option, stated Plasterk, also on behalf of his colleague of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports Edith Schippers, in reply to questions posed by members of the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations following their visit to the Dutch Caribbean in January this year.
In response to the question whether there were possibilities to make use of helicopter services together with the Dutch Defence and/or the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard, Plasterk replied that this option had been researched, but that it proved to be too expensive. Plasterk stated that he couldn’t provide an answer to the question about the cost of the current contract per year since publication of these amounts could “severely hamper” the ongoing negotiations for a new contract for medical evacuation helicopter services. “The minister of VWS commits to inform the Second Chamber on the costs as soon as the new contracts have been formalised, as far as it is permissible to make company sensitive data of private parties public,” Plasterk stated.
The medical evacuation helicopter has made 145 flights between St. Eustatius, Saba and St. Maarten in 2013. As for the planning of the construction of a helicopter platform at the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC), Plasterk stated that he couldn’t say when this was ready as this was a responsibility of the Country St. Maarten.