Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Nevin Özütok of the green left party GroenLinks wants to know what exactly is going on with the permit of the medical evacuation helicopter for St. Eustatius and Saba.
Özütok submitted written questions to State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops and Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Cora van Nieuwenhuizen on Tuesday in an attempt to seek clarity after the first media report appeared in The Daily Herald on Saturday.
The two-year permit for night-time flights at St. Eustatius’ F.D. Roosevelt Airport expired about a year ago. Without this permit, the medivac helicopter has been forced leave St. Eustatius after the closure of the airport for the night. As a result, the helicopter now overnights at the neighbouring Juancho Yrausquin Airport in Saba. The helicopter returns to St. Eustatius in the morning hours. The St. Eustatius Government only recently learnt of the expiration and has put in a request with the Dutch aviation authorities for a renewal as soon as possible.
Özütok asked Knops and the minister how exactly this situation of the expiring of the permit came about and whether there have been adverse consequences for the transport of patients. Are there cases in which the absence of medical evacuation transports to the St. Maarten hospital in the night hours has resulted in severe medical complications?”
Özütok wanted to know what kind of measures have been taken to secure nightly medical evacuations in St. Eustatius and Saba. Medical evacuations during night hours for Saba are secured, as the helicopter overnights in Saba, while it was understood that a temporary solution has been found in case an emergency medical evacuation is necessary in St. Eustatius during night hours.
Health care authorities in Saba sprang into action when it became clear that the medivac helicopter could no longer stay in St. Eustatius during the night. To secure continuity of emergency evacuations, Saba authorities suggested letting the helicopter overnight at Juancho Yrausquin Airport.
The helicopter has been parked in Saba during the night since last week Monday. Having a helicopter has a positive side for patients who need to be transported off-island during the night: the evacuation goes much faster and it takes less time to get the patient to St. Maarten.
In the meantime, the process to renew the permit for St. Eustatius has been initiated. OzUtok asked Knops and the minister whether they were willing to assist with a quick processing of the permit. Are you willing to take measures to prevent a repeat?”
The Daily Herald.