Air Transfer From Nepal After Major Earthquake
[14:11 April 25th] An 8.1 earthquake struck Nepal killing 8583 people. According to the China embassy in Nepal, four Chinese citizens were killed and about 10 Chinese citizens were seriously injured.
[11:00 on April 27th] HealthLink received a service request for an air transfer for a Chinese tourist injured during the earthquake. Upon receiving the request, our service team immediately sprung into action. However, there were several challenges:
1, After the earthquake, Kathmandu airport is taken over by the military and overcrowded with rescue aircrafts from all over the world. So, we needed to secure a landing spot.
2, Because of the earthquake and the numerous aftershocks, most roads were damaged and ground transfer might be difficult or dangerous.
3, With the number of injuries caused by the earthquake, medical resources were severely constrained or lacking;
4, Communications lines were severely compromised with only about 1 in 50 calls getting through and only lasting 1 to 2 minutes before losing connection.
[Morning of April 28th]
Despite the multitude of challenges, our service team worked for an entire day to arrive at two potential transfer contingencies.
Plan A: Our plane will arrive at Kathmandu airport at 16:30pm on the 28th, receive the patient by 18:00pm, depart Kathmandu airport by 19:30pm, and arrive at Shanghai by 4:00AM on April 29;
Plan B: If no immediate landing slots were available in Kathmandu airport, the medical plane would instead land at Bangladesh Dhaka airport by 15:30pm and wait for an open slot in Kathmandu airport.
Once got the position, would fly from Dhaka airport to Kathmandu airport. Through the communication with internal staff of the airport, we learned that we can land at 11:30 on April 29 in Kathmandu airport. If HealthLink received the wounded and took off from Kathmandu, it was expected to arrive in Shanghai Hongqiao airport at 22:00.
[Afternoon of April 28th] Due to severe rainfall in Katmandu and severe congestion at the airport, we could not secure a landing spot despite circling the airport several times. Therefore, we had to adopt plan B and flew to Dhaka Airport in nearby Bangledesh.
[Morning of April 29th] Finally, after awaiting more than 10 hours, a landing spot in Katmandu was finally available and we landed in Katmandu airport by 11:50am. Simultaneously, we had to arrange for ground transfer of our patient who arrived by 12:30pm with our flight taking off by 13:00pm. Finally, by 18:30pm, our plane landed in Shanghai and the patient was successfully transferred to the awaiting ground ambulance where our staff and family members anxiously awaited and happily welcomed the patient with tears and applause.
[Evening of April 29th] By 19:30pm, the patient arrived at Shanghai Changhai Hospital and admitted directly to the emergency ward. The entire international air transfer operation lasted 58 hours and came to a successful completion.