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> Big Changes in Czech Air Rescue, aka Back To The Future
Dark One
Posted: Dec 27 2016, 07:50 AM
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I could only hope for a happy New Year, but with January there comes change, that might as well throw some parts of our country well back in time.

From as long as I remember, air rescue in our region was offered by the private company DSA, with most modern and best equipped helicopters in the country.

And considering the wild nineties, when there was used anything from Bell or Ecureuil, to aged Mi-2, both DSA and the sister Alfa Helicopters steadily updated their fleets to keep with the times.

Prior to the 2009 contract, each company was operating from three regions, while three regions got covered by the police helicopters, and Pilsen by the army. But in 2009 it was decided by then government (now the opposition party), that police will be only covering with HEMS the Capital City of Prague and the Central Bohemian Region, and the remaining two regions were given to the DSA, and Alfa Helicopters respectively. Which worked for almost a decade. Until now.

Some smartass figured out that private air rescue is too expensive, and something have to be done about that. So the army and the police were given one more region each, and DSA lost two to foreign contractors. Because crucial part of the new contract was nothing else than the lowest price.

Alfa Helicopters ceased to exist. Their newest helicopter from Olomouc ended up in Jihlava, and will be covering as well the Highlands region from there, for one of the foreign companies. Police already have their heliport in Brno, so they will just return to providing the HEMS from there, as they did before the 2009. And NIKola from Brno moved to Ostrava, under the "new" operator HeliAir, that is pretty much just remnants of Alfa Helicopters taken over by Austrians. In the words of the director of our Regional Emergency Medical Service "scheisse warum?!"

But, for example South Bohemia will get thrown fifteen years back, to before their Kania got replaced by one of the Bells, and to spice things up, the army SAR Sokol is too big and too heavy to use the brand new heliport built just two years ago. So the Sokol that was originally meant to get phased out from the service for sake of something newer and smaller, but got a pricey overhaul instead, will be operating from the Bechyne military base, while the heliport for approximately $2,5M will be deserted at least until the 2020, when there will be either new contract, or the state founded company takes over the air rescue.

And people in Olomouc and Ústí got it even "better", because thanks to those scrooges in the government, these two regions has been given to the company from Slovakia, that might have experience from the mountain rescue in High Tatras, but they can only offer the vintage Agusta helicopters from early nineties, already retired from the Swiss service, and they just lost their newest Bell literally right before the contract got signed.

Heaven help us. This won't end well.


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Dark One
Posted: Jan 1 2017, 10:09 PM
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And the inevitable became the reality.

I can console myself that maybe the 25 years of hard work was not completely wasted here in the region, because we inherited pretty much the identical helicopter from Brno (OK-NIK/OE-XVG) and the technicians and pilots are the former Alfa personnel, but I saw our yellow angel rising from the middle of the intersection in the neighborhood, and saying that they can land on a dime is not an exaggeration. It will take months before the new pilots will get somehow familiar with the region.

Also, Ministry of Healthcare actually signed the amendment with DSA, that will allow them to continue their service in Ústí until the end of February. Truth remains that it is not possible for Czech provider to get HEMS license for A-109 helicopters since 2008. So MoH persistently pushing the ATE "because of the lowest price" is unfair at the very least.

But in the end, maybe the goal really is just to spend as little money on the air rescue service in next three years as possible, and then "save the day" with new fleet of helicopters belonging to the public company. Unfortunately we already saw how good manager the state is.


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Dark One
Posted: Jan 17 2017, 09:23 AM
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And the fight continues.

Ministry of Healthcare just announced yesterday, that they had to cancel the tender for HEMS in Ústí nad Labem, because only one of the competitors was able to provide the necessary certificate (category A helicopter), while the other one only offered the "adequate alternative". So to ensure that the service will be provided in accordance with the law, and to prevent any further disputes, new tender will be held. In the meantime, MoH is prepared to further extend the contract with DSA.

And as for the ongoing arguments against the ability of ATE being eligible to provide the service in high standard with the vintage machines... Just few hours ago, Agusta of the regional EMS in Olomouc had to undergo the forced landing, due to some problems with the engine, while transporting the patient with burns to specialized center in Brno. Luckily enough, pilot handled the situation well, and the patient continued transport in ambulance. The helicopter though got grounded by the regional authorities until the further notice.

Things does not look good for ATE here at all. And while the paramedics shrugs, and the crew is getting used to the "new" 25 years old helicopter, the company already have replacement for the Bell that crashed last year, and the generation change proceeds according to the plan. In Slovakia, that is.


But even the situation here in the region is not as bright as it might appear. We have the adequate replacement in case of the helicopter in NIKola, but as for the cooperation between the helicopter crew and the ground personnel (especially the mountain rescue service) the problems already arises, because HAT have different procedures, than what our paramedics were used to. And instead of accommodate to how the things are done here, the former crew of Alfa and our paramedics now have to comply with Austrian procedures. And years of training went out of the window anyway.


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BrabusAMG
Posted: Jan 17 2017, 04:00 PM
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Does anybody there use the Eurocopter BK117? That's the standard rescue helicopter here. The new one used in my region happens to be the most advanced rescue chopper in the country, I've heard happy.png.


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Dark One
Posted: Jan 18 2017, 12:22 AM
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It would be impossible to not know the 'Medicopter 117', and to my surprise we actually had one back in the 1994, when police air service got D-HIMV for trials. But we basically had three lines of rescue helicopters.

Police went from Mi-2, through Bo 105, and Bell 412, to EC 135
Alfa went from Mi-2, through Bell 206, and Bell 427, to EC 135
And DSA went from Mi-2, through AS 355, to EC 135

But as I said, lot of stuff flied here in the nineties. In Pilsen, they even had Bell 222 on loan from Germany.


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Dark One
Posted: Feb 13 2017, 01:19 AM
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And just for the record... There was actually another BK117 on trials here in 1991. It was from Italy, and is still in service as "medicopter" somewhere in USA (so something like that Swiss/Slovakian Agusta from Olomouc). But it was just presented to various HEMS bases across the country for a day, while the D-HIMV was given to police air service for an entire month.

Speaking of Agusta, it seems that ATE does not like the bad publicity that comes with the complains about their 'proven' helicopters after all, and rumor goes that their beloved "shark" will apparently get replaced in Olomouc later this year by one of their new 429s. I'm just not sure how they will deal with the paperwork, considering that the contract was made for the Agusta, and something is telling me that they won't just offer the brand new Bell for the same price.


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Dark One
Posted: Jun 17 2017, 03:39 PM
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Just when you thought that the comedy couldn't get any better... The contract for HEMS in Ústí region goes to the DSA after all, because ATE didn't even participate. Perhaps our dear Ministry of Healthcare didn't wanted to pay more for new Bells, and ATE refused to play the clown in this circus, and offer only the very old Agustas that everybody is complaining about.

This unfortunately changes nothing for Olomouc, where MoH will simply pay the fine for signing the contract despite ongoing challenge, and ATE will continue using the 25 years old helicopter, with just two years newer backup, because minister of healthcare was following his own agenda. Ironically enough, after his own party threw him overboard for incoming elections, he is effectively counting the last months of his political career. tongue.png

On a related note, air service of the national police recently opened a new post in Ostrava, sharing the heliport with HEMS, where they will be temporary placing patrol helicopter from Brno, but after the trials they are planning to have there a new machine permanently, and maybe even provide HEMS in the region, so the Police Air Service would have covered all three largest cities in the country.

And as for the future... Who knows?


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