GMR

Delhi and Hyderabad Airports: The major hubs of Air Ambulance Operations in India

13 August 2021


In critical situations, like that of Covid-19 catastrophe, every minute can work wondrously in saving lives. This is the time when air ambulances-one of the fastest mode of transport helped medical staff in dealing with various medical emergencies. It was during the second-wave of the pandemic that the incidence of covid diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and others were on a rise. This led to a surge in the demands of air medical services, especially air ambulances by hospitals and other end-users.

GMR-run Delhi and Hyderabad airports have emerged as a hub of air ambulance operations during the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic. The two airports handled over 1,100 air ambulance in the first six month of this year. Read this blog to know how these services are offered effortlessly by two of the best Indian airports led by GMR.

What is an Air Ambulance?

Air ambulances are mainly fixed or rotary wing aircraft like helicopters, having advanced medical facilities on board along with paramedic staff. They travel fast and operate in a wider area than a land ambulance, making them useful in sparsely populated and remote areas. They not only transport patients but also provide critical and high level of care during transportation. The service is provided by various hospitals, government agencies, and independent operators in India and in other countries.


How are GMR led Airports seamlessly managing the Air Ambulance operations?

Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), which operates Delhi Airport, had geared up its emergency handling services for facilitating movement of such aircraft across the nation and overseas, when number of COVID positive cases started to increase. Delhi Airport's General Aviation Terminal & dedicated Aircraft Parking Apron played a pivotal role in efficient handling of Air ambulance services for safe and quick transportation of critical COVID-19 patients. The GA Terminal along with adjoining Aircraft Parking Apron were built by DIAL in September 2020 to expedite private jet movements. These were instrumental in ferrying patients in the quickest possible time for proper treatment and later shifting them to their native places.



Delhi Airport, with its world class facilities, handled air ambulance service to all Indian airports and several International destinations like Germany, Dubai, Zurich, Kathmandu, Dhaka, etc. The airport handled around 168 medical flight movement per month.

While pilots and crew travelled from the GA Terminal, the patients' movement took place through dedicated airside gates to avoid any chances of contamination in the airport terminals. Onboard, COVID patients were kept in isolation pods (a German-made protective cover with oxygen arrangement). As per Covid protocol, a patient is accompanied only by a doctor, a paramedical officer and a nurse. These are certified doctors trained to handle critical care while flying.

The air ambulance operators were provided with complete facilitation services by Fixed-Base Operators (FBO) and DIAL's operational team as per the requirements. While handling Air ambulance flights, airside Follow-Me Inspectors of DIAL escort the outside ambulance vehicles from airside gates up to the respective aircraft parking bays/apron and vice-versa.



These flights are often activated at very short notice (sometimes even in an hour time). It requires expedited coordination among all the stakeholders for arranging necessary approvals for such flights. Airports and FBO staff operated 24x7 with a backup plan of manpower and resources to handle such Air ambulance flights on priority. The FBO concessionaires provided vehicles for transporting crew, medical team/equipment and arranged ambulance services. Sometimes, they also facilitated the process of arranging airside vehicle entry permits for any ambulances coming from outside.


Simultaneously, DIAL also ensured timely sanitization of the ambulance aircraft and dedicated passage for the COVID patients to board the ambulance to ensure smooth operations at the airport. Regular fumigation and use of particular garbage bins for disposal of used PPE kits were also ensured. DIAL staff followed all the precautionary protocols to comply with COVID-19 safety measures, like wearing PPE kit, gloves, mask, etc., while handling emergency activities such as air ambulance service at Delhi Airport.

Similarly, in Hyderabad airport a team from a private hospital (Apollo Hospital) handles the air ambulance services. The Apollo medical team takes the patient out from airside, and hands them over to the hospital staff present on the land side. From there, they are shifted to the hospitals through their own ambulances. The Airport handled around 11 flights, including from Male and Abu Dhabi, during the second wave of pandemic.