Dial 112 for emergencies
By Kinley Yonten
The three digits, 112, could save lives, says Dr Charles Haviland Mize, a resuscitation specialist at the Thimphu national referral hospital.
Dr Charles heads the Bhutan Emergency Aero Retrieval (BEAR) and says that not many are aware of the toll free number. Dr Charles team has teamed up with the Royal Bhutan Helicopter services Limited and responds to any life-threatening emergencies to ensure that it is able to reach patients in critical need, anywhere in the country.
But despite their efforts and success in providing emergency medical services, Bhutanese are still not aware of BEAR services.
Considering the remoteness of settlements in the country, it is difficult to take medical services to the people. BEAR has recently come to the rescue of this challenge.
“Most of Bhutanese don’t know about us, they don’t know our ability to provide operating theatre, intensive care everywhere in the country,” says Charles Haviland. “They call us too late. It is important to call 112. So if someone is sick we can come and help you before it is too late.”
However, the weather is a big challenge. “There are many people that we would love to save but we get stopped by bad weather,” says the doctor.
BEAR provides elite trauma and medical resuscitation. The team keeps equipment like ventilators designed to use on-board helicopter, surgical equipment, anesthetics, and monitors for oxygen, carbon dioxide and oximetry, among others.
The emergency response team came into operation in May this year. The idea took form towards the end of last year when a 14-year-old boy from Trashigang died after falling from a roof, even after he was evacuated to the National Referral hospital.
Dr. Charles said that considering the boy’s injuries, his life could have been saved had he received timely resuscitation and emergency care. The deceased succumbed to a collapsed lung.
However, they are planning to move to a strategic location to enable quicker response to emergencies across the country. They will also increase the team members to seven.
As of now, the team has completed over 21 flights delivering cutting-edge resuscitation and critical care to patients in remote parts of Bhutan before ensuring their safe transport to definitive medical care.
“We have gone on just over 21 flights. Many of those patients had their broken bones fixed and stopped bleeding. We have saved 12 lives out of the 20 we attended to.”