IntlSOS 30 Years - From East to West - Page 108



International SOS | From East to West
It was all about learning as you go
and listening.
— Patrick Deroose
Fascinating
Fact No. 16
We put the first-ever air
ambulances in Port Moresby,
PNG, Lagos, Nigeria and
Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Another key member of the team was Dr Roger
Farrow who joined us in 1987. He was trained in
aviation medicine and had experience of military
medical transports; he too brought vital practical
experience to the job. Roger likewise remembers
how challenging it was in those days. To give just
one example, in 1988, the team had to transport an
extremely ill patient from Singapore to a hospital in
London. Long haul commercial travel was not an
option for this very ill patient, so a small Learjet 36
was used. This required multiple technical stops at
Madras, Abu Dhabi and Cyprus before finally
reaching Heathrow. As Roger says:
“Stopping in the middle of the night, while the
aircraft was being refuelled needed careful planning
as the patient could never be removed from the
aircraft. With little of the sophisticated medical
equipment available today, we had to take the
utmost care to monitor the patient to ensure they
100
Air ambulance
evacuation from
Thailand, early 2000s.
remained stable through each stage of the flight.
It was challenging.”
Flying at night was a constant problem as many of
the smaller airports in the region have only daylight
operating hours. Many times we had to call up
airports and persuade them to stay open so we
could land. As ever local knowledge and being able
to speak the relevant language was important.
Lisa Tan recalls phoning one airport operator and
speaking to him in his native Malay. He was reluctant
to cooperate so Lisa asked him: “Imagine if this was
your son needing help. What would you do?”
The airport was kept open for us.
When Lisa moved over to focus on building the
Japanese business in 1993, Patrick joined full time as
Operations Manager. It was a big step but he soon
adopted the company culture:

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