The pilot behind a new Cayman-based air ambulance service believes the business will be ready for take off by July.
Cayman Islands MedEvac will officially open its corporate office next week. A three-year lease has been agreed on a Lear Jet, fitted out with emergency medical equipment, and CEO William Bodden believes the service could be evacuating patients within four months.
The new business is working on a partnership that could see the plane crewed by paramedics from the Cayman Islands Hospital, according to Mr. Bodden, who is currently a Cayman Airways pilot.
He said the company had purchased its land ambulance and was moving ahead with some of the paperwork and certification required by the Civil Aviation Authority.
The aircraft will initially come with a flight crew, including pilot, but the long-term goal, says Mr. Bodden, is to use Caymanian pilots.
“The aircraft is new to myself and new to the Cayman Islands so it will come with a crew,” he said, “Myself and another pilot will understudy the pilots to get sufficient operating experience. Once we have understudied them for 200 hours, it will be run by myself and other Caymanian pilots.”
The medical crew is likely to come from a pool of medics from the hospital emergency room who sign up to be part of an on-call team. The details of this arrangement are still being worked out, according to Mr. Bodden.
Ultimately, he hopes his firm will provide air ambulance services for the bulk of transfers from the Cayman Islands.
CINICO paid out slightly more than $800,000 for 71 medical evacuations during the financial year ending July 2012. That represents a fraction of the total number of evacuations with private insurance companies arranging their own transfers for seriously ill patients.
Mr. Bodden said his research suggested between 20 and 25 patients were airlifted out of Grand Cayman each month.
Under the existing system, air ambulance companies, largely based in Florida, bid for each evacuation in a mini-tender process and usually fly in from Miami to do the job. Auditor General Alistair Swarbrick raised concerns over the management of the system in a special public interest report last year.
Mr. Bodden believes using a locally based air ambulance will be cheaper and more efficient for insurance companies, as well as more convenient in emergencies.
“The insurance companies are very interested and we have had a lot of conversations, but they need to see what product we have first,” he said.
The office on Dorcy Drive opens on April 16.