IntlSOS 30 Years - From East to West - Page 114

International SOS | From East to West
Falcon 10 – permanent
stretcher system.
Before he joined the company,
Ian was invited for an interview in
Singapore. When he went into
Arnaud’s office for his third interview
of the day his first word was “No.”
He had been working for a French
company and did not enjoy it.
He had been invited to Singapore
for an interview and arrived without
knowing who he was to meet – now
he had already met two Frenchmen
and Arnaud was the third. The idea
of working for the French was “not
possible.” Arnaud replied that both
the idea of recruiting from a
competitor, and giving a business
management role to a doctor,
were “not possible.” Ian accepted
the job offer.
Our reputation for reliability and excellence was
building. So was our overall business. Many
companies were starting up in Africa, especially in
mining, and they needed our services: Emergency
assistance as well as our more general medical
services. South Africa had good healthcare, it
was closer than Europe, and its airspace was less
crowded. If medical transportation was needed
it was the desirable destination. We met the
increasing demand by introducing two more
air ambulances; these were both Learjet 35As.
By 2009 we were flying about 40 missions a
month, totalling 180-200 hours. This service was
the busiest in the International SOS group,
indeed in the whole world of air ambulances.
The timing was right and so was our service
delivery. Fraser continued to strive for excellence.
He got external companies to carry out Aviation
Safety Audits, and in 2001 we participated in the
formulation of the South African CAA Part 138
standard for air ambulances. He then embarked on
the lengthy process of gaining CAMTs (Commission
for Accreditation of Medical Transport Services)
certification. This very strict standard, established
for US air ambulances, was achieved in 2007.
Re-accreditation is undertaken every three years
and we were successfully re-accredited in 2010
and 2013.
In 2010 we also sought and achieved European Aero
Medical Institute (EURAMI) accreditation which also
remains current. We are the only air ambulance
company outside the US and Canada to have both
CAMTS and EURAMI accreditation.
We also developed our own brand: Air Rescue
Africa. The economics of South Africa meant we
had more private clients there than elsewhere and it
was important to address them directly. As well as
developing an Air Rescue Africa website, we
advertised on TV and handed out pamphlets and
pens to travellers at airports. This was an unusual
step for International SOS but right for these clients.
Today Air Rescue Africa has grown from a service
consisting of one dedicated jet air ambulance with a
few dedicated medical staff, to a fleet of three air
ambulances and a team of 45 medical and support
staff, providing services around the clock.
As they were in Asia, the early days of the air
ambulance service in Africa were both difficult and
exciting. Getting patients from remote hospitals, into
the air and to a destination hospital is a journey of
many parts and many challenges. Memories of planes
landing at tiny airports, often at the dead of night,
stick in the minds of those who were there. And again,
success was down to hard work, huge expertise, and
having the right contacts and local knowledge.
Both Fraser and Ian enjoyed these times greatly.
Dr Ian Cornish has just retired so let’s give him
the final word:
“Ours is a fascinating business full of passionate,
remarkable people. It’s unique. It has been an honour
to work with such exceptional doctors, nurses, pilots
and others, and be part of a team that has made a
real difference to so many people’s lives.”


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