DOH-MIMAROPA Regional Director Eduardo Janairo admitted in a media interview that their office did not anticipate the large number of requests for the air ambulance in Palawan, which now averages two to three trips per day.
“Sa dami ini-screen talaga, ‘yung mga walang-wala at hindi kayang mag-angkat [transport] ng pasyente ang ating pinagbibigyan. Yung iba kasi magpapa-MRI lang sa Manila, magri-request pa ng helicopter, libre. Eh hindi naman puwede ‘yun,” Janairo underscored.
It can be recalled that the DOH formally launched last March 15 its air ambulance services in the MIMAROPA region with two helicopter units, one a six-seater Cessna 2016 and the other a four-seater Robinson R44. Both aircraft were provided by the Philippine Adventist Medical Aviation Services Incorporated (PAMAS). The said units can transport patients from the scene of emergency to the nearest health care facility in the region and in Metro Manila. The ‘ambulance project’ is part of DOH’s effort to establish a more comprehensive health system in Palawan and the region in terms of mobility. Aside from mobility, they are also focusing on upgrading health facilities and improving human resources.
The regional director admitted that operating the air ambulance still comes with several challenges.
“Minsan, nagkakaubusan ng gasolina. High octane kasi yan, hindi yung ordinaryong gas. At hindi rin naman basta-basta puwede maglagay ng tank sa mga lugar [munisipyo].
He also mentioned problems in drop-off areas in Manila. However, he assured that they are currently working on it with the help of concerned agencies.
For Palawan, emergency numbers that can be contacted are 09985492585 and 09175331651.
Janairo also reminds the public that these numbers, as well as associated health workers in the community, must only accommodate emergency situations among indigents in the region.