Working Groups have always played a significant role in the European HEMS and Air Ambulance Committee’s (EHAC) life. The MWG has been key in the development of the solid base, and continuity of, the AirMed World Congress events, which have been organised by a series of different organisations over the years. Such stability was always the guarantee resulting in high-quality speakers and the wide spectrum of topics covered during the events. Previously, the MWG conducted studies resulting in published research covering a diverse range of topics, and there are plenty of plans in the pipeline for future innovation and research. However, we must admit that despite our initial aim – to involve not just HEMS operators, but fixed-wing air ambulance professionals – such specialist topics have often come second during the development of conference programmes.
Focus on fixed-wing air medical capabilities
Fixed-wing air ambulance capacity represents around 10 to 20 per cent of the European air medical community, and those programmes are mainly part of domestic helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) capacity. Just as an example, Norway, Poland, and Sweden operate fixed-wing aircraft alongside their helicopters, but these operate mainly within national borders, providing additional capacity to HEMS operations. Meanwhile, operators like ADAC, REGA, DRF or TrustAir Aviation have a wealth of experience in the field of international short-, mid- and long-haul repatriations. Sadly, historically, this experience was rarely heard and/or represented within EHAC’s community.
EHAC and its Board are committed to widening the organisation’s reach towards such fixed-wing air medical programmes, recognising that their knowledge and experience is just as important and significant as that of the HEMS community.
Full members’ medical representatives elected a new Chair, Dr Marcel de Leeuw from the Netherlands, during the last AirMed World Congress. He will be chairing the MWG during the next three years and together with myself, as the only medical professionals within the Board, he will continuously encourage fixed-wing air ambulance programmes to participate in the scientific works of EHAC. Topics like the challenges of Covid transports, or carrying blood onboard, are definitely worth sharing best practices and experiences.
Opportunities to forge industry connections
The next AirMed World Congress will be held in three years in Munich, to be organised by ADAC. Professionals in our field of work should be aware, however, that before this event takes place, EHAC will organise annual symposiums too. The next one will be held in the Netherlands during the Spring of 2023. We would like to discuss many important traditional and evergreen medical topics, but are also open to discussing the importance of new directions, such as experiences and opportunities in the field of simulation training resulting from progression in the fields of augmented and virtual reality.
The future is here, the world is changing, and there are new challenges like Covid that require industry engagement if we are to learn from them. EHAC’s aim is to find appropriate answers to those challenges, take the lead and support innovations. AirMed conferences were always a great success in the past, and we are doing our best to keep it that way.