Private ambulance seeks to bolster HSA service

A new ambulance may soon be responding to emergencies in Grand Cayman if an agreement is reached between the Health Services Authority board and a private air ambulance company. 

William Bodden, pilot and CEO of local air ambulance company MedEvac, said the Health Services Authority was due to respond to the company’s proposal, which was sent on June 22, sometime this week. 

According to Mr. Bodden, the ambulance was originally purchased to transport patients from hospital to the air ambulance, but after conducting research over a three-year period, he found there was an average of 22 local air ambulance cases per month, leaving the ambulance free for further use. 

“We’re only looking at about 22 calls per month for air ambulance services, so at that point you are not using $150,000 piece of equipment to its full potential, so we approached the HSA and asked if they wanted to use our ambulance as backup for George Town,” said Mr. Bodden. 

The MedEvac ambulance is a 2010 Chevy Horton model, and is mainly used for critical care patients.  

“It’s a medium duty ambulance. Most of the U.S. fire departments and major companies use it for critical care and advanced life support transport. We purchased it because most of our patients were going to be critical care,” Mr. Bodden said.  

MedEvac also purchased additional medical equipment, including the Lucas 2, an automated chest compression machine for patients in need of CPR in tight spaces.  

Mr. Bodden said if the hospital authority accepts the proposal, MedEvac would hire emergency medical technicians and paramedics to be stationed at the center on Dorcy Drive who would be available to respond to emergency calls in George Town.  

“We have a dispatch center at our facility, so we would be able to have two-way communication with the 911 center. If a call comes in and the HSA unit is unavailable, then the call would revert to our company,” Mr. Bodden explained. 

Currently, the Health Services Authority has five ambulances in its fleet; three are operational and on the road at any given time, and two are stationed as spares. 

“Our motto is that we’re in the business of saving lives … As far as the ground ambulance goes, our target is that once a 911 call is sent in, that person gets help in 10 minutes – 10 is typically the magic number.” 

The company also sent a proposal to the HSA offering to replace the current air ambulance services at a cost of $12,000 per patient, $3,000 less than what local insurance companies are currently paying for overseas air ambulance services, according to Mr. Bodden.  

During the financial year ending July 2012, CINICO ordered 71 medical evacuations and Cayman Brac has an average of eight to 12 evacuations per year. 

Med-Evac-Van

The 2010 Chevy Horton model is a large-body ambulance with a roomy interior and is used primarily for critical care patients. – PHOTO: SAMANTHA BONHAM

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