BEIJING RED CROSS EMERGENCY RESCUE CENTRE - Mr Lenny Zhang

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Beijing Red Cross Emergency Rescue Center, colloquially named Beijing 999, serves the Greater Beijing area. Utilizing the typical ground ambulance in its early years, Beijing 999 realized in 2014 a more efficient transportation method is sometimes required. It has since acquired two H135s, a Falcon 2000LX and expects a G550 and H145 in the near future. These aircraft now provide speedy emergency relief, often in remote and hard to get to locations.

WHEN WAS BEIJING 999 ESTABLISHED AND WHAT SERVICES DOES IT OFFER?

As requested by the Beijing City Municipal Government, Beijing Red Cross Emergency Center was established in 1998, as the city’s emergency medical rescue service. 20 years later, this Emergency Center has 136 Emergency stations in the Greater Beijing Area, 385 ground ambulances, two helicopters, two fixed-wing aircraft and has saved over four million patients.

HOW DID THE NEED TO EMPLOY HELICOPTERS COME ABOUT?

In China’s 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), President Xi Jinping declared the country’s intentions to develop Beijing into a sophisticated, global city. As such, a well-organized medical environment for its citizens was necessary.

In early 2014, Beijing Red Cross Emergency Center surveyed and studied the helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) system, both in the US and Germany. The Center then signed contracts for two Airbus H135s and by October 2014 we launched the first HEMS in China. We began working with Beijing Capital Helicopter (BCH), who manage both helicopters and provide experienced pilots and maintenance crew.

Now, our call center receives anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 stress calls a day, with over 1,000 ground ambulances dispatched daily. HEMS can be efficiently used two to three times daily. Currently, the H135s serve Beijing, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, and Shandong Province. During winter, we fly ski accident patients almost every day from the ski town of Chongli to Beijing Sino hospital.

WHAT IS THE PROCESS OF UTILIZING AN EMS HELICOPTER?

From the moment a call comes in, after a quick evaluation of the patient’s location and condition, we are able to lift off within 30-40 minutes. Because we have pre-filed 289 landing spots around the Greater Beijing area and with our direct communication with the Air Force, we have been able to shorten this procedure greatly. While there are still limitations, we are working to shorten this time to 15-20 minutes.

WHAT IS THE PAYMENT STRUCTURE FOR SUCH A HEMS?

Currently, we are working with China Life Insurance and People’s Insurance Company of China to create an insurance structure for everyday citizens. However, the vast majority of patients pay by the fee-for-service structure.

WHAT IS THE POTENTIAL FOR OPERATING HEMS IN CHINA?

This has a lot to do with the local governments, as well as the OEM structure in China. There are different aircraft/helicopters for different use. With the competition between Bell Helicopter and Airbus Helicopters, people need to be more educated on what type of helicopters are used for each mission type. For example, H135 vs. Bell 407; H145 vs. Bell 429.

If the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) issues more Validation of Supplemental Type Certificates (VSTC) for medical configuration, then, I believe there will be more and more usage of HEMS in different parts of China.