The Limpopo Department of Health in partnership with The SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service (AMS) provides an emergency aero-medical service via a fully equipped dedicated medical intensive care helicopter. The helicopter known as ‘The Pride of Limpopo’ provides rapid emergency transportation of sick and injured patients.
The ‘Pride of Limpopo’ provides a daylight service and operates from the Polokwane Civil. 70% of the population live in rural areas thus making the ‘Pride of Limpopo’ helicopter an asset to the community as it allows the road ambulances to stay within the communities and is able to access areas that is not accessible by road. The service has been operational in the Province since 2009 and provides the rare skill of Advanced Life Support Services (ALS); to the community ranging from primary responses, rescue and inter-hospital transfers. ‘The Pride of Limpopo’ has completed 1811 flights since its inception in 2009. The focus on neonatal and maternal patients is a key priority to ensure the Millennium Development Goals are reached. 521 neonatal patients and 211 obstetric emergency patients have been treated and transported by the aero-medical service. The ‘Pride of Limpopo’ has been utilised in the recovery of patients and re-locating of rescue personnel in search and rescue operations. In 2012 the ‘Pride of Limpopo’ played a crucial role in the Mapungubwe floods, where 91 individuals were evacuated in the flood areas and in 2013 in the Lephalale floods where a total of 930 people were evacuated by the ‘Pride of Limpopo’ and the Limpopo Emergency Medical Services. The Limpopo Department of Health is reviewing the need for a rescue equipped emergency helicopter.
The handing over of ‘wings’ by the Honourable MEC for Health, Mr. Kgetjepe is in recognition of the commitment of the aero-medical crew and their contribution to the difference they are making in the lives of the community. The ‘wings’ is a symbol of an achievement that is awarded to pilots and emergency medical services personnel who serve as crew members onboard the helicopter. In order to qualify to receive the ‘wings’, personnel undergo advanced training in aero-medical flight operations. The ‘wings’ will be issued in three categories according to flying hours on the aero-medical platform. The aircraft is crewed by staff members of the Limpopo Department of Health Emergency Medical Services and AMS pilots and flight paramedics.
The ‘Pride of Limpopo’ is accessible to all within the Limpopo Province and is authorised and dispatched via the nominated senior management team of the Limpopo Emergency Medical Services. Anyone requiring emergency assistance can contact 10177.