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Meet the Good Samaritans of Air Medical Transport


You’ve probably never heard of Wewak, let alone the only hospital in the region Boram Hospital. Well, Boram Hospital is the only medical facility in a radius of about 700 kilometer for the people on the other end of Sepik River in Papua, New Guinea. The ride to the hospital often means a journey that takes several days using a canoe.

The only hope for the people living in the region is Cessna 206 Amphibian that transports patients within an hour. This air medical transport company, the only one of its kind in the region, has been aptly named Samaritan Aviation.

How is it Being a Part of Air Medical Transport in the Region?

Mark Palm who is a part of the region’s only air medical transport company says that it is sometimes almost like playing God. Don’t be mistaken into thinking that “playing God” is a privilege. The pilots are often burdened with the decision whether to carry a person on the air medical transport vehicle or not. If a patient is unlikely to survive despite medical treatment, such patients are not chosen for air medical transport. There are two reasons for it. One reason is that Samaritan Aviation is a charity and has to utilize its resources in the most efficient manner. The other reason is that the only hospital in the region is not big enough to accommodate patients who have no shot at survival.

The Financial Aspects of Air Medical Transport

The air medical transport charity runs on $850,000 a year. A part of this amount comes from the government of New Guinea. For the rest, they depend on donations. Mark Palm says that the problems facing the air medical transport infrastructure in the country is a stark contrast from what it faces in the United States.

In the US, there is an excess of resources that the patients have to justify using air medical transport. In New Guinea, the air medical transport operators have to justify not taking a patient even though he is sometimes very critical.

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