In 1966, with loads of enthusiasm and a Cessna 205 single engine “six seater” aircraft, the first and only voluntarily manned air service – the SA Red Cross Air Ambulance Service – was introduced to the country.
Its primary focus was to provide transportation of critically ill and injured persons from remote areas where no adequate medical facilities existed. It soon became apparent that a two engine aircraft would be required to cover the long distances to provide a more comprehensive service. In 1971, with the assistance of Rotary District 935, which covered roughly the same area as the Cape Region of the SA Red Cross Society, funds were raised for a faster Piper Aztec “Spirit of Rotary I”.
Able to accommodate four stretcher patients and medical attendants, the Piper Chieftain “Spirit of Rotary II” officially took off from DF Malan Airport on Saturday, November 27, 1982.
The demand at the time increased threefold with the Service being called upon to transport a larger percentage of “high risk” patients requiring sophisticated life support and monitoring equipment. To cater for this need, the Service was once again updated in 1988 with a pressurised Cessna Citation II Jet aircraft which was converted into an Air Ambulance with the latest medical technology.
In 1994, a trust was formed and the organisation adopted its present, all-encompassing name – the SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service Trust.
The SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service has evolved over the past few years into a multi-purpose organisation with high tech capabilities to serve rural and metropolitan areas. Through the realisation of a national air ambulance network, safe and rapid aero-medical transport can be provided on a 24 hour basis throughout the country, whilst our partnerships with the provincial health authorities via the Flying Doctor and Health Outreach Service brings healthcare to people of our country.