Health: It took almost two hours for the chopper to reach and airlift a 51-year-old patient from Khomshar basic health unit (BHU) in Zhemgang to Thimphu referral hospital yesterday.

Around 9am, the health assistant at Khomshar BHU called the Zhemgang hospital inquiring if a chopper evacuation could be arranged for a patient who had suffered a stroke because of high blood pressure on December 22.

The patient’s left side of the body had gone numb and had lost consciousness, the health assistant reported. The clinical officer at Zhemgang hospital then contacted Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital seeking the chopper service.

The chopper reached Khomshar around 11:30am. “We didn’t know who the chopper focal person was to contact immediately so we called Thimphu hospital,” the clinical officer, Rinchen Phuntsho said.

The patient is undergoing treatment and has also got a CT scan done.

Meanwhile, director general of department of medical services, Dr Ugen Dophu said there is no confusion about who to contact for medical emergency. Health officials could call 112-health help centre and consult specialists to discuss on whether an evacuation was necessary based on the patient’s condition.

After the specialist’s decision, HHC will arrange the chopper and coordinate with health worker from where the patients will be lifted. Coordination will be done on identifying the location to land and preparing for landing.

“The process would take not more than 30 minutes,” Dr Ugen Dophu said. “Everyone may not know this process because we are yet to issue a office order.”

He said the health ministry has completed the guidelines on use of helicopter service for evacuation of patients, which will soon be circulated to all health workers across the country.

The guideline is expected to help health workers avail chopper service to evacuate patients without hassle or loss of time.

An official with the helicopter service said it took them 53 minutes to fly from Paro to Zhemgang. This was the sixth patient evacuated to Thimphu hospital to date.

Nirmala Pokhrel