January 23, 2024
BANGKOK – Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew reiterated his promise to expand airlift services nationwide while observing an emergency airlift rehearsal in Phang Nga.
The ministry’s permanent secretary Opas Karnkawinpong accompanied Cholnan to observe the rehearsal at the Koh Yao Witthaya School in Phang Nga’s Koh Yao district on Monday morning.
Addressing the gathering, Cholnan said the Sky Doctor or emergency medical airlift project is necessary for Phang Nga as it is a tourist destination, and covers an expansive sea area with numerous islands. Last year alone, some 2.61 million local and foreign tourists visited Phang Nga, contributing around 12 billion baht in revenue.
Cholnan said the Sky Doctor project would elevate Thailand’s emergency medical services to international standards, instilling confidence in foreign tourists.
The Sky Doctor project involves deploying a medical team via helicopter to remote spots or islands, such as Koh Yao, to ensure timely treatment and potentially save lives.
Emphasising the importance of the Sky Doctor project, Cholnan reiterated his ministry’s commitment to extending the services to cover all 13 public health areas nationwide.
Opas said the Public Health Ministry has commissioned five ambulance boats around Phang Nga islands and has established nine helicopter landing spots on the islands and in downtown Phang Nga for emergency airlift services.
Opas, meanwhile, detailed the training efforts in Phang Nga where six teams have undergone the Basic Helicopter Emergency Medical Services Course. Two of these teams are stationed at Phang Nga Hospital, two at Takua Pa Hospital, one at the Khoa Lak Centre, and another at Kao Yao Chaiyapat Hospital.
Last year, the Sky Doctor teams in Phang Nga successfully transported two patients suffering from aortic dissection, one to Hat Yai Hospital and another to Trang, where they received timely and effective treatment.
The Sky Doctor project, initiated in 2009 by the National Institute for Emergency Medicine (NIEM) in collaboration with the Public Health Ministry, has seen significant achievements.
Since 2021, Sky Doctors have performed more than 400 operations, airlifted nearly 400 patients and delivered three organs.
In September last year, Cholnan announced plans to expand the program by setting up Sky Doctor teams in every public health area nationwide within 100 days. This initiative aims to improve emergency medical response, particularly during the busy tourist season.