03 October 2012

US aviation firm sees big growth in air ambulance

An American aviation company sees good growth prospects for the air ambulance service it started last July in Subic.

It just brought in a second aircraft for the air 911 service.

The Philippines, according to Scotty Watson, Carejet Assist program director, is central to the company’s service in Asian countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Vietnam and Guam.

Watson said they intend to cash in on a vast pool of clients in Asia-Pacific and in North and Central Pacific, particularly with the tourism boom in Asia.

“The way tourism is going in Asia-Pacific, particularly diving and fishing, we can make air ambulance work,” he said, adding their firm is receiving an average of two to three calls a week from clients.

He said the air ambulance business is ideal in the Philippines where medical treatment is cheaper while offering quality service.

“We have a good spectrum of medical professionals. Your doctors here are very excellent,” he said.

The firm also caters to AIG, considered the biggest insurance company in the world.

Carejet was tapped by American-owned Aviation Concepts, based in Subic to implement the air ambulance project.

Aviation Concepts is run by his friend, Terry Habeck, president and chief executive officer. Habeck said that they may also venture into potential markets like Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Air ambulance assets include a fixed-wing seven-seater jet converted into an intensive care unit which offers patients safe and on-time, bedside-to-bedside transport. It is manned by a team of doctors, nurses and is equipped with state-of-the art facilities providing basic life support, advanced life support, pediatric advanced life support, critical care transport and specialty neo-natal care.

While it is still a fledgling industry in the Philippine, air ambulance is a common transport facility in the US. It is considered a better aerial vehicle than helicopters since it is faster, more spacious, has less noise and vibration, less weather-dependent, less costly, can operate 24/7 and is highly recommended for journeys of up to 240 kilometers.

An air ambulance service is considered more significant as it can cover a large region, including remote areas where there are few hospitals, inadequate ground transport or other problems such as poor roads or communications.

Aside from providing medical services, air ambulance also provides repatriation through coordination with other commercial airlines. He said over the past two weeks, they have brought in patients from Copenhagen and London.

Watson said their West-Wind aircraft has a range of 2,000 nautical miles and piloted by American, Japanese and Filipinos experts.

Watson started the air ambulance business in his native New Zealand in 1991. He teamed up with Habeck who enticed him to put up a medical service company in Makati and working with insurance and medical companies.

In the Philippines he met his future wife, Gelmi at the Clark Freeport Zone and decided to settle here.(Jay Chua, Malaya)
The air ambulance is a seven-seater jet converted into an intensive care unit which offers patients safe and on-time, bedside-to-bedside transport.