INCREASED oil and gas exploration in the country is proving to be a development catalyst for many sectors including the introduction of an aero medical service.
The Whirlwind Aviation Sales and Marketing Manager, Mr Mark Loretz, told the 'Daily News' in an exclusive interview that the company had embarked on purchasing additional helicopters to target the oil and gas exploration industry.
"At the moment we have two helicopters that operate between Dar es Salaam and Arusha. Our primary goal is to have five helicopters that cover Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Mwanza, Mbeya and Mtwara," he said during a networking meeting organised by the Hotel Association of Tanzania.
Whirlwind Medical Rescue is a pre-eminent provider of air medical services in the country dedicated to providing rapid and safe aero medical transportation to injured and critically ill adults, children and infants.
Mr Loretz explained that demand for air medical services were on high demand in the country especially when you take into consideration that a larger part of the population live in rural areas where state of the art medical services are lacking.
He said that increased mining activities as well as oil and gas exploration provided a good opportunity for them because usually accidents that occur there demanded quick response that a road ambulance is unable to do.
"We utilise helicopters adapted to be air ambulances and are equipped to intensive care unit levels comparable to that found in hospitals which are only dedicated to this region," he said.
Mr Loretz cited that their 20 minute mobilisation time ensured that deliverance of services was the best possible and fastest service as well as making the Golden Hour (the first 60 minutes are crucial for any accident) count.
He explained that the air medical service wasn't an insurance premium but rather on membership basis where a person is fully covered for air ambulance transport from the scene to the nearest appropriate medical facility.
"It should be known that emergence air transport are based on medical need, not membership status and transporting patients to the closest, appropriate medical facility as requested by a physician or medical professional," he said.
The aero medical service works in collaboration with the Trauma Centre in Dar es Salaam where patients can be transferred but depending on the seriousness of the accident and affordability, a person can be flown to Nairobi or South Africa.
The Whirlwind Aviation Marketing Manager, Mr Nuhu Khalfan, said that the company had already a good track record after it was involved in last year's Zanzibar ship accident where they saved 250 people.
Mr Khalfan said that they have also been involved in about 10 rescues since 2011 including two recent ones in Singida and Arusha where hunters were trampled on by raging buffalos. "We have experienced more withdrawals, however, because of complications with insurance company agreements. That's why it makes more sense to be a member," he said.
It costs up to 1,200 US dollars for individual primary members and 1,800 US dollars for individual family rates while corporate primary members foot 960 US dollars per year and corporate family rates are at 1,440 US dollars.
The company also provides scenic trips for tourists and professional hunters and provides medical service memberships for that sector at 38 US dollars for 1 - 7 days and 200 US dollars for 8 - 30 days for tourists and 80 US dollars for professional hunters for a minimum of six months.