In a joint statement, Luxembourg’s Interior Ministry and Luxembourg Air Rescue (LAR) have announced that the air ambulance service now has the capacity to transport highly infectious patients. Two LearJet 45XRs from LAR’s fleet have been converted as part of the Government’s National Ebola Emergency Plan. The project was funded by the European Commission.
LAR is now able to fly patients infected with the Ebola virus, and intensive medical care can be provided during flight. Dual-patient missions are also possible, with the isolation kit being used to prevent cross-infection.
The aircraft interiors had to be reconfigured to accommodate the isolation units, which were produced by private companies in the UK and Austria in consultation with LAR’s medical department. The development of the modules took several months, due to the need to meet both medical and aeronautical requirements.
LAR’s staff have undergone training on how to conduct such missions. To this end, the company’s pilots and medical crew have worked in co-operation with Médecins Sans Frontières, an organisation that has extensive hands-on experience of treating highly infectious patients. LAR also worked with the European Commission and the World Health Organization to create operating procedures that facilitate a fast turn-around for evacuation missions.
The completion of the project has come earlier than expected. In November 2014, the Luxembourg Government committed to working with LAR to have planes ready for Ebola transports by mid-December 2015, as part of the MEDEVAC module in the voluntary pool of the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism.
According to the joint statement, authorities in several countries – including Japan, Canada and Switzerland – have already shown interest in Luxembourg’s new system.