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Air ambulance remains grounded

Bermuda’s air ambulance service remains grounded and will not be able to fly again unless Government provides some money to help, according to the nurse who launched it.The Royal Gazette first reported on the problems faced by the service in May 2012 — at that time Ms Bell estimated that $1 million would need to be invested to start it up again.The Royal Gazette endeavoured to get a comment from the Government as to whether it would help the service, but no reply was forthcoming.

Eloise Bell said the Bermuda Air Medivac plane has not flown since November 2011. The service was dealt a double blow by a declining number of patients and competition from cheaper US services.

The air ambulance, which was set up in 2004, made 500 trips to take sick people for specialist medical help overseas before it folded. Patients ranged from head injury and stroke victims to cardiac cases.

Giving an update yesterday, she said: “After that, we did get someone who was interested in backing us but the number of people being transported out now has decreased considerably as they have got a cardiologist at the hospital now. As a result, some of the patients are not being transported as they are waiting until they get better and sending them on commercial flights.

“The bulk of our patients were cardiac patients so it’s not a viable business and we shut down in November 2011. We won’t revive it unless Government steps in and backs it.”

Ms Bell, who is a registered nurse working at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital emergency room added: “We have saved lives and I know people have died [since we ceased operating] because they have had to wait for a foreign air ambulance to come in from Georgia or Florida and it takes them two-and-a-half to three hours to get here.”

A meeting with the former Government a year ago failed to yield any help.

However, Ms Bell said she raised the issue with her constituency MP Michael Dunkley in the run-up to the general election and is hoping the new Government might be willing to help fund the service to get it going again.

Meanwhile, the plane which ran the service, which was purchased with a charitable donation, remains in New York and may eventually be sold, according to Ms Bell.

Still grounded: Nurse Eloise Bell stands next to Bermuda's air ambulance, a Cessna Citation S-II, in this file picture.

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Published January 08, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated January 07, 2013 at 11:17 pm)

Air ambulance remains grounded

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