Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 50 seconds.
Created in 2000, the Polish Medical Air Rescue (LPR, Lotnicze Pogotowie Ratunkowe) is one of the most modern services of its type in Europe. Having started operations flying legacy Eastern-Bloc Mi-2s, fitted with medical equipment, these quickly proved impractical for the role and were soon replaced by Airbus H135s. Dedicated to providing the best HEMS service in the region, with a population of around 38 million people, the LPR has a staff of just 750, comprising 116 pilots, 138 doctors and 90 paramedics. Spread across 21 bases, which increases in number during the summer months, LPR’s 27 H135s have just reached the staggering total of 100,000 flying hours, which indicates how heavily the service has come to be relied on by the emergency services within Poland.
Konrad Matyja, a doctor with LPR describes a typical daily HEMS sortie:
“During the height of COVID Warsaw’s emergency response was heavily overloaded. This caused an increase in the number of HEMS missions within the area of the city. One morning we were dispatched to a motorcycle accident which occurred in a busy city centre. We knew right away that this would be a very challenging mission – landing, keeping the helicopter area safe, and managing a crowd that is trying to help but can in fact be a hindrance. We reached the GPS destination point and started looking for an accident scene. We spotted a crashed motorcycle and some people around a motorcyclist who was lying prone.
“The lower we got the more obstacles we noticed. Both the doctor and HEMS crew had their doors open and were looking down to assure a safe landing. The area was restricted by tram lines, electrical wires, a bus stop, and cars. We hovered at about 30 feet until the firefighters confirmed that all the pedestrians were clear and there were no loose objects. The pilot resumed the approach and within seconds the skids were on the ground. The doctor rushed to the scene and the pilot stopped the blades and waited.