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RCP0110_026-027_Feature 2/9/10 4:51 AM Page 26
By Dave Hardin - Contributing Editor
If you walk into the AeroAmbulancia rain feature we have in the states from
hangar at the La Isabella Airport you’ll desert to mountains, and sandy beaches to
meet up with the first HEMS company to dense forestation. Such were the chal-
be certified to operate in the Dominican lenges for this group as they began a
Republic (DR). If they’re not out on a much-needed service for the people of this
flight, you’ll shake hands with some of Caribbean Island.
the finest professionals in the business. I’m the Director of Safety for a large
Such was my honor over the past year as HEMS operator in the states. As we all
I’ve watched these folks get their Heli- know, we woke the morning of January
copter EMS (HEMS) operation up and 12th, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that
running. AeroAmbulancia is a part of the shattered Haiti’s fragile infrastructure and
Helidosa Aviation Group who has been in resources, causing massive casualties and
the helicopter tour business for quite a few injuries. Haiti is on the western end, and
years. Their country has adopted the U.S. shares the island of Hispaniola with the
FAA standards for operations conducted Dominican Republic. That morning my
under Part 135. AeroAmbulancia was the boss called me and said “If you can help
first in the history of the DR to receive out and assist the folks at AeroAmbulan-
Operations Specifications for Helicopter cia with the Haitian disaster, get on the
EMS Operations. plane”. Six hours later I retrieved my lug-
The Dominican Republic presents some gage in Santo Domingo.
unique challenges that we all take for You know, if I had to list the single
granted back here in Estados Unidos greatest epiphany that I experienced while
(United States). HEMS in the states rely in the DR, it would be one of “Perspec-
heavily upon the local communities and tive”. Last night here at home I slept in
their first responders being ready and able my own comfortable bed. This morning I
to assist us when we need them. Imagine took a hot shower, put on clean clothes,
what a scene flight would be like if there drank my favorite coffee, and brushed my
were no fire departments or ground am- teeth in the sink. An average day for us
bulances, a very limited number of law (and one we often take for granted).
enforcement personnel, and a population My first morning back in the DR, I
of around 9.5 million people in a country walked out onto the flight line at the La
that’s only 232 miles long and 158 miles Isabella airport on the northwest side of
wide. Now add in every geographical ter- Santo Domingo where AeroAmbulancia
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