It’s not everyday you get to cross the scenic Gozo channel by helicopter. But this was no panoramic tour. We were sent to join Gozitan medics as they trained aboard the new Air Ambulance.
The ambulance will be officially launched in the coming weeks, which is good news for anyone living or travelling to Gozo. Hopefully it won’t be kept too busy by the daredevils who insist on jumping from the Azure Window.
Until now, if someone gets critically injured in Gozo, they have to be airlifted to Malta with a helicopter of the Armed Forces of Malta.
But the AFM helicopter is based in Malta and not always available since the AFM has lots of other missions to carry out.
Now, thanks to the investment by Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH), Gozo has its very own dedicated air ambulance service, which will cut down waiting time and save lives.
“Although under normal circumstances a 15-minute wait is almost insignificant, when it comes to trauma and injury, a minute could make the difference between life, death, and a full recovery,” VGH CEO Armin Ernst told us.
The brand spanking new helicopter will be manned by 2 full-time pilots who will be based in Gozo and a number of medics from the Gozo General Hospital including anaesthetists, nurses, and doctors who are all receiving specialised training to be well prepared for any eventualities once the service is launched.
We travelled with these medics and were impressed by their focus during training.
VGH is the company that signed an extensive healthcare deal with the government in June.
Works to give Gozo a state of the art hospital will start this year and should be completed by 2018. The hospital will have 450 beds (some of which will be used for medical tourism) and will also include Barts medical school which is expected to open in September 2017.
VGH has also taken over two other hospitals for a 30-year concession: St Luke’s and Karin Grech through its total investment of €220 million.