Lotnicze Pogotowie Ratunkowe: State-of-the-Art Helicopters, Maintenance and Training

23 Eurocopter EC135s will be delivered to the Polish Ministry of Health, the Lotnicze Pogotowie Ratunkowe organization, between 2009 and 2010. Interview with Robert Gałazkowski, the director of Lotnicze Pogotowie Ratunkowe.

© Wojciech Wožniczka
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Does the helicopter you have chosen fully reflect your operational needs?
Robert Gałazkowski: A team of doctors, pilots, rescuers and mechanics stated their expectations, which were then reflected in the specifications. It can therefore be said that the helicopter was chosen by the people who will work with it.

How are you planning to introduce into service, over only 17 months, 23 modern helicopters?
R.G.: It is a very difficult task, but we have a great team involved in the challenge. The introduction of these helicopters will happen in stages: First we will tackle daytime operations, then night-time operations, then difficult weather conditions, and then training to learn about the capabilities of the new helicopters. With time, the original concepts will have to evolve according to the gained experience and realization of new needs that come along with the experience.

Will the current infrastructure in your company change due to the introduction of 23 machines?
Within a Union program we have started the procedure aiming at building new bases and we are running renovation works in the remaining ones. We are planning an improvement of landing infrastructure of the bases and their navigational equipment, procedures of the national dispatcher’s unit, communication system and the equipment of the maintenance bases.

Maintenance and intensive exploitation (24 hours a day) of 23 helicopters require also great human resources. how are you going to fulfill the task and find tens of experienced pilots and mechanics?
It is a good question, there is no use for modern machines if there are no people. But we are not giving up, one of our priorities is to enroll a proper team for the helicopters and for the moment the situation seems to be satisfactory. The introduction program of a modern helicopter seems to be so interesting, that for the first time, we observe a tendency to return to flying in medical transportation, of some pilots, who had previously worked in medical aviation and were then “drained” by the commercial market of flight operators.

The agreement also covers a highly specialized training product, namely an eC135 Ftd simulator. What do you expect from the manufacturer in the scope of its implementation?
R.G.: Nowadays, this device should be standard in the training center of any company that owns a large number of helicopters. We expect this device to adequately prepare us to use the new helicopters: It should allow us to train under extreme and dangerous situations, as well as under situations that are impossible to simulate in real flights, while maintaining an appropriate level of safety.


At a Glance

Name: SP ZOZ Lotnicze Pogotowie Ratunkowe
Headquarters: Varsovie
Director: Robert Galazkowski
Type of activities: SAR and EMS Missions
Number of bases: 16
Employees: 75 pilots, 52 mechanics
Fleet in 2008: 18 helicopters (17 Mi-2 and 1 Agusta ) and 2 airplanes (Piaggio)