Tuesday , June 6 2023

Özütok seeks clarity on medivac helicopter woes

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.

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